Wednesday 21 March 2012

Ivy Gourd with Almonds (Tendli Sukhe)

First off, I am not quitting the blog... this post is not about that kind of good bye :)

Readers of my blog will know that I was born and brought up in Mangalore, in India. My family and I lived in a beautiful, quaint old house, almost a hundred years old. Last week, my beautiful childhood home was demolished to make way for a block of flats. This has elicited a huge amount of emotion from me, and I am writing this post to help me sort through all these emotions.

My childhood home. No longer around, sadly.

As a child, your home is your castle. I have a vivid memory of sitting on sun soaked steps, and watching my mum's prized grape vines (that never produced any grapes) and thinking that this has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. My sister and I wandered the gardens, got yelled at for going too close to the incredibly deep well, climbed every fruit tree that was ever grown. We ate nectar sweet guavas straight from the tree, screeched in horror at the caterpillars festooning our roseapple tree, raced out into the depths of the orchard to find my mum fresh bay leaves. We revelled in the sweet fragrance when our two coffee bushes were in bloom, and grumbled constantly about all the work we had to do when coconut drying season was in full swing. We muttered and whined when we were asked to help mum with all the cleaning, and we made up all sorts of games in our yard. We helped mum with the garden, and loved the beautiful flowers she grew.

Sure, as a teenager, I've been, on ocasion, embarrassed by the fact that it was small. But as I grew older and left for university, the joy of coming home was only matched by the fact that it was my home, my special place, the place where my heart was. I appreciated its beauty, its nuances, its familiarity as the world around it changed.

Its hard to say goodbye to my home, the place where my mum arrived as a newly wed, the place of mine and my sister's births, where I first found out that I was expecting Aditi, the place that I thought was untouchable and constant. I hate the fact that progress means that these beautiful old home are being destroyed by developers. I hate that I will never see the kingfishers whizzing over the well. I hate that I will never sit on our redwashed front steps, and eat mangoes and watermelons. I hate that my mum lost her beautiful garden, that she slaved over year after year.

But everything comes to an end. And change is the only thing constant in this world. I still have a lot of bitterness about my home no longer being in existence. But that bitterness is something I have to work through and I have to always remind myself that I chose to leave. That I chose to make my life away from my childhood home. And much as I loved it, my love alone would never have been able to save it in this world that no longer values history. Not history on an epic scale, but the small personal histories that make up our everyday lives.

But, its a good time for me to reflect on my life, and all the happy times I have had in my house. And as much as I rail against the injustice of losing my childhood home, I have to remind myself that I do have another home with my darling husband and my beautiful child. Its time to look to the future and make sure that the house I now live in, I make into a real home, for my daughter and me, and for my whole family. My heart is heavy, and my throat aches with unshed tears, but what's done is now done, and my memories now sustain me.

Its time to finally say goodbye.

Ivy Gourd with Almonds (Tendli Sukhe)

This recipe reminds me of my childhood. Its not a special one, and it used to be a simple weekday meal that my mum made when she was too tired to put together anything too fancy. The flavours are light and easy on the palate and of course, ivy gourd is such a quintessentially South Indian vegetable.

I found some fresh ivy gourd, or tendli, as they are known in Mangalore in the Indian stores on 34 Ave here in Edmonton. The rest of the ingredients are commonplace and easily available everywhere. I added the almonds as my special touch (plus, I didn't have any cashews that are more traditional with this dish, hehe) and they worked really well in this dish. This dish is usually served up as a side dish with rice or congee, but works well with more special dishes like biriyani or pulao.

I hope you enjoy this, and that it brings a taste of my home to yours.

Ivy Gourd with Almonds (Tendli Sukhe)


(Printable Recipe)

Around 500g ivy gourds (tendli)
1 tablespoon light olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, chopped as small as you can
1 teaspoon homemade Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup hot water
Salt to taste
Large handful of blanched almonds


Top and tail the ivy gourds. Using the flat of a chef's knife, smash them up until they split a little, but leave them whole. Don't smash too hard, as then they will get mashed up.

Heat the oil on a medium heat in a shallow pan, and add the cumin seeds. Let them splutter for about 30 seconds, then add the onion. Fry for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft.

Add the garlic, and saute for about 1 minute.

Add the chopped tomato, Madras curry powder, ground cumin and ground black pepper. Stir together, then fry for about 5 - 7 minutes, until the masala comes together in a sticky mass.

Add the water to the pan loosen the masala, then add the roughed up ivy gourds to the pan. Stir, until all the vegetables are well coated with the sauce. Season with the salt to taste.

Cover the pan, and cook for about 12 - 15 minutes, until the ivy gourds are tender. Stir in the almonds.

Serve with rice, biriyani or as a side dish with meat curries.

Ivy Gourd with Almonds (Tendli  Sukhe)


  1. I can sense your feelings of sadness as you see your house go Mich. I would feel the same too as I have similar memories associated with my house. Luckily, my house hasn't yet fallen prey to builders as my mum plans to keep it till her last breath. I think we can relive our childhood spent in our homes in Mangalore if we have even a handful of photographs to remind us of the wonderful times we've had. I hope you feel better soon. Take care..

  2. I understand the sense of loss. I have lived through it. Only it was not the builders, but terrorists who drove us out and away and then took hold of our more than 100 years old house.

  3. I'm sorry to hear about your house - it seems to be common situation all over the world - small little houses for big apartment buildings. It makes me very sad. There is something very comforting about knowing that the place you grew up is still there. A little piece of constant stability in a world that is always changing.

  4. Very sad when progress comes at the cost of casting aside that which is old, beautiful and loved.
    I'm sorry to read about your old home being lost, not to mention your mum's garden.

  5. Oh this has made me so cross. I know it was your home and it looks beautiful too, but for me it is the garden that is being trashed and built upon. It seems the world over, that gardens and quiet outdoor space are no longer valued. As a gardener myself, I know how much love and work goes into it and I really feel for you and your mother.

    All of the big gardens in our town have disappeared now :(

  6. I feel sad for ur loss, because nothing can replace the feeling of home. If you move around a lot then it's the one place you feel is a constant in your life.

  7. I'm so sorry to hear about your childhood home. This seems to be a trend back home. My mother's sisters live in Hyderabad and their home was demolished to build an apartment building as well. I know my cousin's were quite upset to loose their childhood home.

    This tendli salaan looks so comforting...love the clicks.

  8. I am so sorry to learn about the loss of your childhood home and your mothers garden. I can to some extent understand the sense of loss, though not comparable as yours was a home, I was hurt at the loss of my allotment plot/gardens.

    The tinda Salan looks good. I am living near my parents now, so am getting to tuck into good South Asian cuisine.

  9. hey michelle that s a beautiful home and i know what you are going thru... i m sorry that you are having to accept the bites of development.but like you said change is the most constant thing in life and great ivy gourds

  10. The lovely green color of the dish is so refreshing ! Cheers !

  11. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your home but thank you for sharing those precious memories. I've never eaten tendli but they're definitely on my list now as soon as I can get near an appropriate shop. I hope the happy memories of your first home overcome the sense of loss - you'll always have those memories. (Maybe I'm not one to talk. Reading your memories has made me remember that when my childhood home was demolished I would have very happily volunteered to swing the wrecking ball).


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