Our local Farmer’s Market (McKinney’s Chestnut Square) yielded some nice fresh okra on a recent visit and so I decided to make this classic Indian dish.
Right out of college I was working in Chennai. For the first time in our lives, we were having to fend for ourselves in a culinary way. Thankfully a lot of my friends were good cooks and adventurous and so I acquired a great many recipes along the way. This recipe below was taught to me by an old friend Chanda Bhakt.
I had crashed and burned before trying to make okra but somehow I could never get the okra to cook properly without completely disintegrating or turning mushy. Chanda showed me the error of my ways. She pointed out that the way to do justice to okra is to first deep fry it separately and then add it to the sauce. It maintains its integrity that way. Made sense.
A few years have passed since I learned that lesson and I am older (not necessarily wiser) now and on a mission to degrease Indian cooking and so I decided to tackle this classic. Instead of deep frying okra I pan-fry/roast it with very little oil in a non-stick pan. I have got pretty good results with it.
This is a simple dish, made best with fresh ingredients. Here goes. Enjoy.
INGREDIENTS (enough for 4)
1 Tbsp cooking oil (I use Olive Oil)
1 lb okra – washed and dried and then chopped into 1/2 inch pieces. Discard the end that attaches to the stem.
1 Tbsp cooking oil
1 medium onion – finely diced
2 medium tomatoes – finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic – minced
1 inch ginger – peeled and grated
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp red chili powder
Salt to taste
1. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a non-stick pan on medium/high. Pan fry all the okra till it is browned nicely.
2. Remove the okra from the pan and on to a plate lined with paper towels. Soak up as much grease as you can.
3. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in the pan on medium/high heat. Add onion and fry till it starts to brown.
4. Add tomatoes, garlic and ginger. Add the spices. Cook on medium heat till the tomato is pulpy.
5. Add the okra and cook for another 5 minutes.
6. Adjust salt and serve hot with a bread of your choice.