These little things are apparently called 'tindora' and can be found in all Indian grocery shops. They're like a variety of mini squash but are actually a fruit. They can't be eaten raw and take a fair bit of cooking to take away their bitterness. Mrs Parmar used to do hers in a pressure cooker, but she once had them fried in LA and hasn't looked back since, so that's how she showed me.
First you need to top and tail each fruit, then they need to be sliced into about 6-8 long segments. Next, use a heavy bottomed pan and heat oil to a low-medium temperature. They need long, slow deep frying in batches like this for about 8 minutes a batch:
Then, drain on kitchen paper as you do the next batch. They should look like this:
If you can manage to multitask, make the masala whilst the rest of the tindora cooks. You just need to make a very basic masala, so whizz up two large tomatoes and about four cloves of garlic in a food processor. In another pan, heat a small amount of oil or ghee. You don't need as much as normal as obviously the tindora has been deep fried and you don't want the overall curry to become greasy.
Add the tomato and garlic mixture to the hot oil, then when the oil rises to the surface after a few minutes add a teaspoon of turmeric, half a teaspoon of ground coriander, half a teaspoon of ground fennel, a teaspoon of chilli power and a teaspoon of minced ginger. Stir in and cook down for a few minutes then add the cooked and drained tindora. Put a lid on the pan and leave to infuse for 15 minutes or so, ensuring the mixture does not become dry (it should be almost sticky though). Sprinkle with dessicated coconut just before serving:
She also knocked up a homemade mango pickle, which was incredible, but a sharp mango chutney would do a similar job. The tindora have a texture and taste not dissimilar to a hard courgette, but the sweetness from tomatoes, garlic and ginger once all cooked down balances any lingering bitterness.
Beautiful vegetarian dinner for one - do you think she's trying to fatten me up?!