January 14, 2012

Spicy Sauteed Okra (Bhindi)

A few weeks ago I was introduced to this amazing dish whipped up by a friend of friend's wife.  We had returned to the house from a winding shopping trip and were ready for a bite to eat.  Food preferences can always be a bit tricky when you're a guest in someone's home, but luckily my friend chimed in that I was a vegetarian while the menu was still under debate.  The news was readily accepted and a plan for an all Indian-meal was devised with curry, rice, potatoes and bhindi (okra).

It was my first time having okra outside of a Southern gumbo-type situation and I was completely blown away (actually it was also my first time having authentic, homemade Indian outside of a restaurant). The okra was so crisp, flavorful and fresh with a depth of spices to enhance what remained a solid green vegetable dish.  Who knew?  I always pictured okra as sour and slimey. Clearly someone has been cooking it wrong.  With cravings to try this delicious main dish, I ended up prompting one of my Indian coworkers for the recipe - she immediately knew what I was talking about, and while she professed she personally wasn't a fan, that she'd snag the details from her friend.

And the result is below!  I added a bit of yogurt in because I thought it was a touch dry without an accompanying dish (yes, I just sat down and gluttonously ate a whole bowl of it).  Some scallions or dill would make a nice touch to mix in with the yogurt as well.  I'll add an update if I make any adjustments to the recipe in the future, as I've seen a variety of options online as well that I'm itching to try in an attempt to bring a more complex range of flavors. Enjoy!

Spicy Sauteed Okra

0.5 lb okra
Olive oil
Salt (to taste)
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chile powder
Dash of cayenne
1/2 cup of greek yogurt, plain (optional)
1/4 cup scallions, chopped

1. Wash and chop okra into 1/2" pieces, disposing of stems.
2. Add a tablespoon of olive or coconut oil to a saute pan with the burner set on medium heat.  Add okra and spices to the pan and begin to cook, stirring with a wooden spoon as you go.
3.  After about 10 minutes, the okra should begin to get golden in the white centers near the seeds, the slippery interiors will dried up and the edges will begin to get caked with spices.  Taste to verify that the spices are to your liking, mix in a little extra if necessary at this time to adjust.
4.  Continue to cook until the edges are browned and the okra has soften, no longer the crisp fresh fruit.
5.  Serve immediately with a dollop of plain greek yogurt and a dusting of fresh scallions.

Chopped OkraSpicy OkraSpicy Okra

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