Kovakkai Stir Fry

Kovakkai or Ivy Gourd is an easy to make vegetable which can be transformed into an eye catching crispy side dish in few minutes. Few people like my grand mother and brother prefer eating it raw like a cucumber while I like it to have it as a stir fried.

They are also called baby watermelon, which I find really fascinating

Kovakkai Stir Fry

Kovakkai Stir Fry

Kovakkai or Tindora in Hindi is also known as by various names such as the parwal, tondli in Marathi, Toroda, kunduri in Oriya, kovai, kundri or even kovakkai in Malayalam and Dondakaya in Telugu.

My association with kovakkai started as early as a kid. During our food sessions, my mom would tell us (me and my brother) memories of the wild area that they had behind my grandmother’s home. The last room of my grandmother’s home would face a place overgrown with wild plants and trees, which gave them a feeling that they lived amidst a mini forest. She always used to say that during her childhood days they would see large numbers of parrots in that area. Those red beaked parrots with green plumage would be sitting perched on to the window munching on the ripe kovakkais growing as climber over the room’s windows. I would listen to her in awe and transport myself to that surrounding. I feel my mom’s generations were really lucky to have lived in such surroundings.

She used to make kovakkai poriyal , mix it with rice and feed us. We used to love it. Whenever I have this vegetable, I would always be reminded of the intelligent bird with the ability to mimic humans. Such was my love for kovakkai that I used to take kovakkai rice in my lunch boxes frequently and used to enjoy my lunch sessions. I feel lunch tastes special when packed and carried in good old stainless steel boxes, you gather under a huge tree during lunch time, open your box, find your favorite dish and share it with your friends.


Nutritional value

Kovakkai or the Ivy gourds contain vitamins A, B1, B2 and C. It is also a good source of protein and fiber. Kovakkai when included regularly in our diet helps in cleansing the blood due to its detoxification capability. It contains compounds that help regulate sugar levels and is beneficial to people with diabetes.


Kovakkai – 200 gms
Chilli and Corainder Powder – 1 – 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Oil – 3 tsps
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Garlic – 5-6 cloves
Salt to taste


Preparation time – 10 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
Total time – 25 mins
Serves – 2-3 persons

  1. Wash the kovakkai well in water and pat them dry if needed using a kitchen towel.
  2. Trim the ends and slice them finely into roundels. Chop garlic finely.
  3. Heat oil in a kadai. Once the oil is hot, add in the mustard seeds. Let it splutter. Then add finely chopped garlic.
  4. Saute for a minute and add in the cut kovakkais.
  5. Saute for 2-3 mins and then add in the turmeric and chilli and coriander powder and salt. I normally use chilli-coriander powder mixed in equal proportion.
  6. Toss it well so that the powders are coated over the kovakkais. Cover with a lid and cook on a medium flame for 7-10 mins stirring in between so that it doesn’t get burnt.
  7. Your kovakkai stir fry is ready to be relished as a side dish with rice and sambar or rasam or curds.

Additional Notes

  1. I normally do not like to add ripe ones (flesh red in color) in my preparation and hence discard them. I feel when added they tend to change the flavor of the dish. I like to buy the ones that are firm and bright green in color.
  2. Do not add water while cooking. Making without adding water and steam cooking results in crispy fry.
  3. Ensure you keep the flame in medium to avoid burning.
  4. Kovakkai shrinks when cooked. If you would like to increase the quantity, you can use finely chopped onions and add them along with garlic.