I think when it comes to okra, there are only two kinds of people – those who love it and those who don’t! There is usually no midway. Since okra doesn’t have a very bold flavour of its own, I believe, the dislike camp is basically people who unfortunately ate okra at some point in life that wasn’t cooked right. Undercook it and it ends up slimy, over cook and it gets mushy or burnt.
Also choosing the right pods is very important for a good taste. Fresh pods which are less than four inch long, free of bruises and tender crisp, taste best however you choose to cook them. Mature pods have a chewy skin and hard seeds that taste unpleasant in the mouth. If it’s the slime that puts you off okra, there are a few easy tips to make slime free okra. Always wash and completely pat or air dry okra before chopping off the ends and cooking. Liquid at this stage increases slime. Dry fry/roast or even grill okra before adding it to any other curry or preparation.
Okra, lady’s finger, gumbo, bamia pod or Bhindi is loaded with health benefits. It’s rich in dietary fibre and mucilage substance that help digested food move through the gut. They are a great source of vitamin A, folates and anti-oxidants. They can help lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure too but for that we need to avoid using too much oil while cooking them or they end up being little oil filled sponges and lose all their natural goodness.
Aloo Bhindi recipe is a simple and homely way of cooking okra dry curry style. With very few spices, generous squeeze of lemon juice and mint garnish, the dish stands out as a delicious side for lentils and curries. Though Aloo Bhindi recipe is usually made as a side with lentils or other gravy curries but as there are already potatoes in there, I skip eating any rice or roti with it and dig in as a warm salad with fork when I’m trying to cut out extra carbs. The trick to avoid using too much oil while cooking okra is to use a good non stick pan or a heavy bottomed pan to dry fry in very little oil, cook for first few minutes covered and then remove lid and crisp up. OR we can bake or grill them before adding to a curry, salad or any other preparation.
1 kg fresh okra/Bhindi
3 medium potatoes
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
Salt to taste
2-3 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil
Green chilli peppers for garnish
Mint leaves, fresh or dry
This Is a What a You Do:
Wash and pat dry okra. If the okra are small and tender, simply cut off the ends. If they are bigger in size, slit them in halves lengthwise.
Wash, peel and cut potatoes into wedges or like thick French fries.
Slice onions, dice tomatoes.
Heat half of the oil in a nonstick or heavy bottom frying pan on medium low heat.
Add okra, cover the pan and cook till tender. Remove the lid, raise the heat to medium and roast okra till all the slime gets dried and they are slightly crispy on the outside.
Remove okra from the pan, set aside.
Add the remaining oil to the same pan. Add onions, cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Sauté on medium heat till onions are light golden.
Add potatoes and continue to sauté till potatoes are golden on the outside. Add red chillies, turmeric, salt, tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste and 1/4 cup of water. Cover the pan and cook on medium low heat till the potatoes are done but still firm and retain their shape.
Remove lid and let all the liquids in the pan evaporate. Add okra, stir to combine.
Squeeze a lemon on top.
Serve hot garnished with green chilli peppers and mint.