April 19, 2007
Bhindi Ki Subji/Stir -Fried Okra
Okra is one of the highly misunderstood vegetables. Tossed aside as a slimy gooey vegetable, best known for thickening Gumbos and soups here, you have to eat it in its crispy form to appreciate it. The only problem is getting the okra at the right level of ripeness. They are best at the 2-3 inch size , not too thick and not hard to touch. My mom used to snap off the ends of the okra to check the freshness. If they cut off easily, they are and if they bend without snapping off, better look for another vegetable for dinner.
I can't do the snap and bend routine here so its just eyeballing that works. At the Indian Grocery here, it is a common sight to see 2-3 women or men hovering around the okra counter, sifting through, trying to find the smallest and youngest. They dig deep, they dig far into the pile, hoping to find more. There is a slight edge to their glance as one more person joins in the treasure hunt and the pace quickens. If you steady your gaze and continue searching, the best ones will be in your bag.:)
Okra with raita is summer for me, spicy, crunchy and cooling. That was my favorite lunch coming home from school. I love it with hot rotis and cold cucumber raita. And now since summer is still dancing just around the corner, an okra- roti meal may work to hasten the approach.
Try to use tender thin okras which do not have thick seeds as they don't cook easily and tend to get hard. Traditionally, this should be made in an open pan in as much oil as you like.:)There are oven methods to make it with less oil, but for this taste of summer, do it the proper way.
You Will Need:
Okra-1 pound(1/2 kg)
Dried Mango powder (Substitute with 2 tsp lemon juice)-1/2 tsp
Ground Roasted Cumin -1/2 tsp.
Coriander Powder-1/2 tsp
Red Chili Powder-1 tsp (more or less as you like it)
Salt to taste.
Oil for frying-3-4 tbsp
Garam Masala: 1/4 tsp
Cilantro leaves- 1/4 cup chopped
lemon Juice-1/2 tsp
1. Wash the okra well and dry each one with a paper towel or kitchen towel till its is absolutely dry. Cut them into small circles and keep aside. Mix all the powders (except the garam masala) with 1 tablespoon water.
2. Heat half the oil in a non-sticky pan and stir fry the spice powders on low heat till it smells good. Add the cut okra and stir well for about 2-3 minutes on high heat till the lacy threads of the okra leaves it. It is important to do this on high heat. ONlY after that, add salt and cover and cook on medium heat for 4-6 minutes. Open and taste. If it is cooked, now increase the heat, add the rest of the oil and saute it on medium high heat to dry it out and make it crispy.
3. At this point , if it is sticking to the pan, add some more oil. When it looks sufficiently brown, remove from flame and sprinkle garam masala and cut coriander leaves.
If you have the patience to hover around the stove top with constant monitoring and stirring, you can reduce the oil.
This serves 2-3 people depending on how much they like bhindi.