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Tinda (Indian squash) nutrition facts

Tinda or Indian squash is a small, flattened-round fruit n the cucurbitaceous family eaten as vegetables in India, Pakistan and some East African countries.

Scientific name: Praecitrullus fistulosus.

It is the only member of the genus: Praecitrullus, and has close genetic relation with ash gourd and watermelon. It is also called by various names like Indian squash, apple gourd, etc.

Tinda squash
Tinda gourd. Note for light green, smooth skin produce.

Tinda is a monoecious plant, grown as annual climbing or trailing crop in well-drained sandy soils. After a couple of weeks of seedling, it bears many tiny yellow flowers that may require honeybees for pollination.

Tinda is a flattened round, ranging in size between 2 to 4 inches across. Externally, often its light green skin surface is hairy, especially in young, immature fruits.

Inside, its while flesh is soft, with soft, ovate seeds located chiefly at its core. Tinda has a neutral flavor, and its taste somewhat described as light-sweet like bottle gourd.

Tinda are ready to harvest in 12-15 weeks from sowing, depending on temperature and growing conditions. Young fruits harvested while just short of full maturity to use as vegetable.

Health benefits of tinda gourd (Indian squash)

  • Tinda gourd is very low calorie vegetable; just holds 21 cal/100g, relatively same calories as in pumpkins (26 cal/100g). Nonetheless, it carries ample concentrations of vitamins, minerals and fiber that help in overall health nad wellness.

  • Indian squash peel is a good source of dietary fiber which helps in smooth bowel movements and offers protection against colon cancers by eliminating toxic compounds from the gut.

  • Tinda squash is gluten-free food items and is one of better alternative food substitute in people suffering from spectrum of gluten-related disorders. Gluten is a protein molecule in foods that causes severe food intolerance in non-celiac (gluten sensitivity) as well as celiac disease patients.

  • Fresh Tinda squash holds relatively more amounts of vitamin-C (18 mg/100 g or 20% of RDA /100 g) than cucumbers. Vitamin-C is a water-soluble anti-oxidant that plays role as immunity booster, collagen synthesis in bones, cartilage, and blood vessels, and aids in the absorption of iron.

  • It provides small amounts of (5 μg/100 gm) of folates. Folate is an essential element for cell division and DNA synthesis. When taken adequately during early pregnancy, it may help prevent neural-tube defects in the newborn.

  • Being a squash vegetable, it is very low in sodium but compose higher amounts of potassium, an important intra-cellular electrolyte. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte and helps bring the reduction in blood pressure and heart rates by countering pressing effects of sodium.

  • Further, Tinda squash carry modest levels of other B-complex groups of vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, and minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc.

  • In traditional ayurvedic medicine, Tinda squash has been thought to be alkaline in nature, and hence its consumption has a cooling and neutralizing effect on stomach acids and as such used effectively for treating digestive ailments like hyperacidity, dyspepsia, and ulcers. It is also used to treat diabetes.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Tinda gourd (Praecitrullus fistulosus), raw, Nutrition value per 100 g.

(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 21 Kcal 1.5%
Carbohydrates 3.6 g 3%
Protein 1.4 g 2.5%
Total Fat 0.2 g 1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 1.6 g 5%
Niacin 0.300 mg 2%
Riboflavin 0.08 mg <1%
Thiamin 0.04 mg 3.3%
Vitamin-C 18 mg 20%
Calcium 25 mg 2.5%
Iron 0.9 mg 11%
Phosphorus 24 mg 4%
Carotene 13 μg

Selection and storage

Tinda gourd is available around the year in the Asian markets. Tinda squash can be easily bruised owing to their smooth, delicate skin and should be handled with care. Farmers generally pack them in cardboard boxes to markets to protect their skin.

Choose firm, bright, young and spherical tinda squashes in season. Buy fresh, average sized fruits with clean blossom tip and stem spots.

Avoid large, tough skin as they are over mature and therefore, unappetizing. Also, avoid any, if spotted with surface blemish, damaged, cuts/punctured, etc.

At home, keep in vegetable tray inside refrigerator for use within 1-2 days. Avoid extened storage in the refrigerator since they sustain chill injury.

Preparation and serving methods

Before employing them in cooking, wash tinda squash in clean running water and dry using a clean cloth. Peeling is not always necessary. If you wish so, gently peel very superficial skin.

Given their spherical shape, tinda squash make perfect vegetables for stuffing. You can also use them cut diced or in slices as you desire in the recipe. They can also make wonderful substitute for recipes that call bottle gourd, small squashes or similar cooked cucurbit fruits.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Peeled, fresh and tender tinda squash cubes/slices can be eaten raw in salads.

  • Prepare Punjabi style, tinda masala sabzi with tomatoes, garam masala powder, onion and garlic.

  • Prepare simply masala stuffed (bharwan tinda recipe) or more exorbitant Shahi tinda recipes with stuffed paneer, cashews, raisins and spices.

Safety profile

Tinda squash consumption rarely causes allergic reactions. However, inadvertant consumpton of unfit, bitter fruit results in poisoning due to toxic compounds such as cucurbitacin. Toxicity occurs when a raw bitter (toxic) tinda gourd consumed either directly or in the form of juice.

Incidents of serious illness and deaths have been reported in India after consumption of bitter tinda gourd and bottle gourds. Symptoms may include vomiting, stomachache, diarrhea and can occur within minutes of ingestion of poisonous juice which may follow serious illness like bleeding from the gut, shock, and death.(Medical disclaimer).

<<-Also read Crookneck squash nutrition facts.

<<-Read Bottle gourd nutrition facts.

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Further reading:

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database.

  2. Plants for a future-Benincasa hispida - (Thunb.)Cogn..

  3. Asian melons (PDF).

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