Thursday, January 26, 2006

Okra with onions (Bhindi bhaji)

I like okra (bhindi in Hindi, vendakkai in Tamil), as long as the end result of cooking them isnt reminiscent of the nasal debris from someone with a very bad cold. There are various little tricks by which the sliminess of okra can be avoided (Indira, of Mahanandi fame has some tips), but I follow two simple rules which always work for me:

1. ALWAYS wash okra and dry thoroughly before cutting.

2. Dont cover the pan completely while cooking okra - in short, dont steam-cook it.

(Another - and completely foolproof - method to avoid sliminess is to deep-fry the okra. Tastes great but obviously it isnt the healthiest option!)

I also find that the smaller the pieces of okra, the gluey-er (gluier? glueyer? how IS this word spelt?) they get, so I normally cut them into inch-long pieces. I dont add lime juice or curds/yogurt to the okra during the process of cooking, either... I just ensure that the heat is medium-high and that the pan isnt completely covered.

An odd thing about okra, when it's half-cooked, it goes a brighter green than it was before the cooking process! It's done when it goes slightly limp and dark green.

Okra cooked this way, with plenty of browned onions, is delicious with chapaties or rice. I served it this time with
lemon rice - Pete's favourite combination.

Recipe for:
Okra with onions (Bhindi bhaji)


3 cups okra, washed, dried and cut into inch-long pieces
2 medium onions, sliced thin
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped, for garnish
1/2 tsp chaat masala, for garnish (optional)


1. Heat the oil in a wide, shallow pan and add the spice powders, minced garlic, sesame seeds and mustard seeds. Cover and let the mustard seeds pop (about 30 seconds).

2. Now add the sliced onions and let cook till it begins to turn brown.

3. Add the okra and stir well. Let the heat remain on medium-high. Partly cover the pan with the lid.

4. Let the okra cook for 5 minutes, then stir it about with a spatula.

5. Take the lid off and fry the okra, stirring it occasionally, until the pieces shrivel a little and turn dark green. If you are unsure if the okra is cooked, bite (carefully!) into a piece - if it's still crunchy and tastes a bit raw, let it cook a little longer.

6. Serve hot, sprinkled with coriander leaves and the chaat masala, if desired.


Priyamvada_K said...

Yummy! Will try this.

P.S: some people add amchur powder to the okra to reduce sliminess. But I too believe in your method - cooking covered upto a point only. Then cooking in open pan.

Anonymous said...

Hi Priyamvada, I use amchur too, but usually when I make "bharwan bhindi" - that is, okra stuffed with a spice mix.

author said...

4-5 cloves of kokum will also remove the sliminess...also if you get frozen okra,a few hours before preparign the dish,stack 2-3 sheets of paper napkins,spread the okra on it,and stack another 2-3 sheets on tp of it...the paper napkins will soak all the moisture and will make the okra less sticky!!:)

Regina said...

I just wanted to find a way to cook this on my own. I ordered some great bhindi bhaji from a local restaurant last night. I was great with brown rice and naan.

As a child of two people from rural Georgia, I love okra and you're right about how to cook it.

Thanks for sharing this recipe!