Okra is one of those vegetables that is much loved in the Indian kitchen and is cooked without any fuss or slime. Indian restaurants have done some work towards achieving acceptability with the okra, the only problem being a large amount oil is used to create the Indian restaurant staple Bhindi Masala, which translated to spiced okra. The tender long pods, also are called lady fingers in some parts of the world and they love hot weather. I look forward to the Okra emerging in our garden, also because the plant has some beautiful yellow and deep red flowers, which you will see open and ready to greet the world early in the morning.
A nutrient rich vegetable, you get a load of great minerals that will set you on your way, with these wonderful pods. The Okra is rich in Iron, fiber and contains a generous amount of Vitamin A. In the Indian kitchen, they are used for stews or spiced robustly and cooked to ensure that not much of the sticky inside substances get in your way. The vegetable showcases a lot of strong spices well, but need a little care to ensure a crisp finish. Sure, there is always the option of deep frying, which is what is often done for fancy presentation, but I think we can do a little better with this lovely vegetable. It is however, worth noting that the Okra, by itself is fairly low in calories, so if you are using a little extra oil in your cooking, this might be the vegetable to work with.
A sophisticated take on the crispy fried okra, this recipe created by Chef Suvir Saran, is well worth trying. This being said, it still does use a decent amount of oil, and is a little fussy! Given that we love Okra, I need something a little easier to put on the everyday table. If you like your potatoes, here is an everyday recipe that I had demonstated in one of my classes and have here on my blog. I have a couple of lighter style recipes that combine a light touch and whole spices, that can be found in my cookbook.
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With the Okra in the garden, full of life and color, I am here to share with you my Okra secrets. It has taken me some time to reach this point, where I am happy with both the results and the healthy factor of the okra that I am making. The first step in okra making the Indian way, is to select the most tender pods that you can find. Erase the word, frozen from your okra vocabulary! Unless, I there is a trick that I have not tried or learnt, it becomes almost impossible to use the frozen okra to replicate the lightly crisp results that I am sharing with you here.The only other factor needed is to ensure a good, non-slimy result is to wash and dry the pods very well. I have seen people individually wipe these pods one by one, I may not go quite so far, but I do blot them out well on towels. Once, well dried, the rest of the recipe is a super easy, with a bunch of simple spices. This recipe makes a great side dish for almost anything and we savor them at home with freshly made Indian flatbreads.
A spicy take on summer okra
- 1 and ½ pounds of tender okra (tips and tops, trimmed)
- 1 ½ teaspoon whole coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- ¾ teaspoon turmeric
- ¾ teaspoon red cayenne powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup grape seed oil
- 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
- 2 pods of garlic, minced (optional)
- 2 tablespoon lime juice (about ½ lime)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
- Wash and the okra thoroughly using towels to blot out the moisture.
- While the okra is drying out, place the coriander, cumin and the black peppercorns in a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.
- Slice the okra into thin ¼ centimetre rounds, using a clean sharp knife.
- Place in a mixing bowl and toss with the freshly ground spices and add in the turmeric, cayenne and the salt.
- In a large wide skillet add the oil and heat for a couple of minutes on medium heat and add in the ginger and the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add in the okra, preferably in a single layer and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, until the spices turn golden brown and the okra is crisped at spots. Do not over brown the okra.
- Remove with a slotted spoon, removing any extra moisture.
- Sprinkle with the lime juice and the cilantro and serve immediately.