Ivy gourd or coccinea – ‘tendli‘ in Hindi and ‘kovakkai‘ in Tamil – is one of my most favourite vegetables. I love using it to make a Gujarati-style, masaledaar sabzi or in Maharashtrian Tendli Bhat. Did you know that this versatile veggie lends itself beautifully to a chutney too? Yes, Kovakkai Thogayal or Ivy Gourd Chutney is an absolutely, delightfully delicious thing to have! I’m here today to tell you how to go about making this chutney, the way I learnt it from Amma.
Left: Tender ivy gourd; Right: Ivy gourd, cut into rounds
I’ve come across quite a few Tamilian households where ivy gourd is not consumed, because of a belief that it dulls the brain. Exactly how this belief came about or how true it is, I’m not sure. The Internet did not give me satisfactory answers to this either. 😐 What I do know is that ivy gourd is a rich source of iron, among many other health benefits. It has always been a much-loved vegetable in our family, and I’ve grown up eating various dishes made using it. My mom started making chutney with ivy gourd when I was a little girl, as I would refuse to eat my veggies any other way. This chutney would be so delicious that everyone else in the family – dad, my grandparents, friends and cousins – started demanding for it. Amma began making it in large batches, all of which would be licked clean soon enough. 🙂
Kovakkai Thogayal or Ivy Gourd Chutney, the way Amma makes it
Kovakkai Thogayal or Ivy Gourd Chutney is quite easy to make. It makes for a wonderful accompaniment to hot steamed rice, mixed with a little ghee. I love it as a side dish with rotis, parathas, idlis and dosas alike. The best thing is – even people who don’t like ivy gourd love this chutney, I’ve seen. 🙂 You’ve got to try this out!
I’m sharing this recipe with the A-Z Recipe Challenge group that I am part of on Facebook. Every alternate month, the members of this group showcase recipes made from ingredients in alphabetical order. It feels like just yesterday that joined this group – when we were doing the letter B – and I can’t believe we have reached I already! I chose ‘ivy gourd’ as my star ingredient for the letter I.
Now, let me take you through the procedure for making Kovakkai Thogayal or Ivy Gourd Chutney, a la Amma. This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation. You can make it gluten-free by omitting the asafoetida used in the tempering here.
Ingredients (yields about 1 cup):
- 1 heaped cup tender ivy gourd, chopped into thin rounds
- A 1-inch piece of ginger
- 5-6 cloves of garlic
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/2 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
- A small piece of tamarind
- 3 dry red chillies or as per taste
- 1 tablespoon urad daal
- 1 tablespoons chana daal
- 1 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon oil
For the tempering:
- 1/2 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 2 pinches of asafoetida
- 1 sprig of fresh curry leaves
- 2 dry red chillies
1. Soak the tamarind in a little warm water for at least 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, peel the ginger and chop roughly. Peel the garlic cloves as well. Keep aside.
3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the dry red chillies, urad daal and chana daal. Fry on medium heat till the daals turn brown and begin to emit a lovely fragrance. Ensure that the ingredients do not burn. When done, transfer the fried ingredients to a plate and allow them to cool down completely.
4. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the same pan. Add in the chopped ivy gourd, ginger and garlic cloves. Fry on medium heat for 4-5 minutes or till they are cooked and the raw smell from them has gone away. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool down completely.
5. Take the fried ivy gourd, ginger and garlic cloves in a small mixer jar, and add in the tamarind, salt to taste and jaggery. Add in very little water. Pulse for a couple of seconds. Then, scrape down the sides and add in the fried dry red chillies, urad daal and chana daal. Pulse a couple more times, scraping down the sides. Transfer to a serving bowl.
6. Heat the oil for tempering in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds, and allow them to pop. Add the asafoetida, dry red chillies and curry leaves, and let them stay in for a couple of seconds. Take care not to burn the ingredients. Switch off gas. Add this tempering to the chutney in the serving bowl. Mix well.
7. Serve this chutney with piping hot steamed rice and ghee or dosas/idlis.
1. You may omit the ginger and garlic cloves, if you so wish. Personally, I love the beautiful flavour they add to the chutney.
2. Make sure all the fried ingredients have completely cooled down, before proceeding to grind the chutney.
3. The jaggery powder can be omitted if you do not prefer a sweetish tinge to the chutney. We love it!
4. Make sure all the seeds and impurities have been removed from the tamarind, before adding it to the pan.
5. I grind the ivy gourd a bit first and then add in the fried daals. This helps keep the daals from a becoming a fine, mushy paste.
6. Add just a little water to the mixer jar, while grinding the chutney. Do not add too much.
7. You can use tender ivy gourd or ripened ones (which are reddish on the inside) to make this chutney. The ripe ones add a slight tang to the chutney. I prefer using fresh, tender ivy gourd that don’t have too many seeds.
8. You may cut the ivy gourd length-wise or into rounds. I prefer cutting them into thin rounds as they cook faster that way.
9. When refrigerated and stored hygienically, this chutney stays well for 4-5 days.
10. Gingelly oil aka sesame seed oil tastes best in this chutney. However, if you don’t have it, you may use any other oil of your preference.
12. I have used the small, fat and hot Salem Gundu chillies to make the chutney, as well as in the tempering. The three chillies I have added in the chutney make it medium-range spicy. Add more chillies for more spiciness. Using a mix of the long, crinkly Bydagi chillies and the Salem Gundu chillies will give the chutney a nice reddish colour. Please note that Bydagi chillies are relatively less spicy.
13. You can add in some fresh coconut, mint leaves, coriander and/or curry leaves to the chutney too. I haven’t.
14. Adjust the quantity of tamarind you use as per personal taste preferences.
Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!