Quick Curried Okra (Bhindi)
Posted by fourclankitchen on September 30, 2011
This is the simplest of simple vegetables to prepare on a weeknight. Its caloric content is low and its nutritional value is high. Does this sound like a winner or what? This version of okra is made without onions, in the style of Rajasthan, the desert state of NW India. The Jain tradition is strong here and people of this community do not eat onions, garlic – or anything that grows under the ground or hurts an animal (even a lowly underground worm).
The dominant flavors of this dish are coriander powder and hing (asafoetida). To extract the most out of this minimal amount of flavoring, the spices are rapidly fried in hot oil to extract their flavor. Then the okra is added to the infused oil and stir-fried at high heat so that it has a nearly fried flavor (same concept as Chinese stir frying).
A word or two about okra. It is not the slimy vegetable that you might associate with gumbo, but it can turn into a soggy mess in no time at all. Remember water is the enemy of okra. Therefore do not use frozen okra and dry your okra with a paper towel after rinsing. Also use high heat while cooking it so it has no chance to turn soggy on you.
1 lb fresh okra, with the tops and bottoms cut off and slit down the middle.
2 -2.5 tbs cooking oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 heaping tsp coriander powder
1 tsp sweet paprika (increase heat by substituting cayenne as desired)
1 very generous pinch of asafeotida
1/4 tsp turmeric
Salt to taste.
1. Heat oil in a 12″ cast iron skillet or other large skillet. When the oil is hot, add the cumin and stir around till it sizzles. Then add the hing and stir until it gets fragrant- a few seconds. Then add the coriander powder, turmeric and paprika and fry the spices for another 20 seconds or so until fragrant. Do not burn your spices.
2. Now add the okra in a single layer (do not crowd) to the pan and stir to mix in the spices. Add the salt. Continue cooking on high heat until the okra skin starts to brown. This should take about 10 min. When your okra is done, it should be crunchy as you bite into it. Serve with any Indian meal. Me? I eat it as you would a French fry or potato chips as a munchie. Very little actually gets to the dinner table!