Okra, Bhindi (North Indian), Bhinda, Derere (southern Africa), Gumbo (southern US), Ladyfingers, Ochro, Vendakai/Vendakka (south Indian) – all the same green, low caloried veggie that can be prepared in many ways. At 33 calories per 100g, this is another traditional vegetable that I grew up with – cooking it recently, evoked memories of my paternal grandmother, who when she so often cooked it, fresh from her subsistence garden, always sent a hamper of stir-fried bhindi and maize flour roti for my dad – which I got to tuck into too!
My weekend fresh, organic, fruit and veggie haul from a not-so-far-from home farmer, included a pocket of Okra, which I bought up with glee! I shared with my southern African house-help, who cooked it her traditional way – which I sadly could not try! However, she enjoyed my stir-fried version, which was way different from how she cooked hers. I marvel at how our cooking methods differ!
This recipe is based on how most traditional Indian cooks would make Okra. While many avoid it or love it for it’s sliminess, stir-fry cooked eliminates any hint of stickiness, and delivers a crispy, crunchy, spicy and tasty okra meal, which may be a side vegetable for a protein meal, or eaten with other vegetables for vegans. A simple and easy to make recipe, with the flavourings of garlic, garam masala and coriander powder, to add depth in taste, and bring life to an under-rated veggie stir fry
This recipe, using 500g of fresh Okra, serves 2-4 persons. Okra does not freeze well, so cooked on the same day of purchase, and at best, storing in the fridge for up to 3 days after cooking, works in preparing and enjoying it.
500g fresh Okra (washed well, topped and tailed and sliced into 1cm rounds)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
7-8 large cloves of fresh garlic, thinly sliced
3-4 green chilli’s (chopped -deseeded, if preferred)
1½ tblsp garam masala
1 tblsp coriander powder
1 medium-sized tomato, chopped
¹/3 cup cold water
Himalayan or Sea Salt to taste
Fresh coriander, and or Roasted coconut slices for garnish.
- Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius – lay the washed and sliced okra in a single layer on an oven tray to dry roast – about 5 minutes, to remove any stickiness, if preferred.
- Heat the oil in a medium-large non stick frying pan on medium-high stove top heat.
- Add the chilli, garlic and onions and stir fry until lightly browned.
- Now add in the okra, the coriander powder, garam masala, chopped tomato and salt to taste. Mix all the ingredients together to combine well. Then add in the water.
- Allow to cook for about 3-4 minutes, then turn up the stov-top heat and stir-fry until the okra is crisp – another 3 minutes or so, until all the liquid has evaporated and the Okra is crispy, crunchy stir fried and it develops a golden hue.
- Serve as desired.