Friday, July 16, 2010

Okra: everyone's favorite slimy vegetable

As promised, here is my okra post. I have always liked okra. This is one of the proofs that contrary to what any of you said when I was growing up, I am not an alien, a foundling, or adopted :) My love of okra comes straight from Dad. Okra is a beautiful thing when treated correctly (that is, not made slimy, which it naturally wants to be). I have three favorite ways to make okra and all three are really simple, tasty, and pretty popular among those I have made eat it. My first fav (and one of my oldest recipes) involves another unpopular vegetable, eggplant! Yay eggplant!

Eggplant and Okra Stir-Fry
*you can use frozen okra in a pinch

-2-3 Japanese eggplant, diced
-1 lb. fresh okra cut into rounds (caps and tips removed)
-1/2 a large onion, chopped. Any kind of onion except a sweet one would do
-about 4 tbs of soy sauce (Japanese soy sauce)
-red chili flakes or chili sauce (like sambal olek or sriracha)
-garlic powder: however much you like. Be generous
-ginger powder: Use the same proportion roughly as the garlic you use
-cooking oil

Generously (but not excessively) coat the bottom of a non-stick frying pan with oil and heat it over high heat. Add your onions, eggplant, and okra. Stir-fry those for about 3 minutes (trying to get some color and ideally some charred spots). Add your soy sauce slowly so that it is absorbing and not burning on the bottom of the pan. Throw in your chili sauce/hot stuff. Add your ginger and garlic powders. Cook for about 2 minutes until everything is tender but bot mushy and serve over some nice white rice.

Indian Okra Stuff.
Okra in India is called "bhindi" and is often referred to as "Lady fingers." This recipe is representative of how I generally make okra indian style. I do not always do it the same. I omit things sometimes when I don't have them. The tomato, for example, doesn't have to be in there but it is nice :) You can use powdered ginger and garlic when you don't have fresh but fresh is better. It's such a go-to thing for me that I have like 50 permutations of it!
*you can use frozen okra in a pinch

-1 lb. Okra, cut into rounds (caps and tips removed)
-1 medium tomato, chopped
-1 onion, chopped
-6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
-1 tbs fresh ginger, grated
-2 tbs garam masala
-2 tbs. cooking oil

Heat your oil in a non-stick pan over medium to medium-high heat. Throw in your onion and your okra. Cook them for about five minutes until they are getting soft. Unlike the previous recipe, we aren't so much going for char here. Throw in your tomato (if you are going to) and let it get good and mushy. That can take about 4 minutes. Now you will probably have some tomato juice stuff at the bottom of your pan that is getting okra slimy and of you didn't use tomato you just have some slime most likely. Don't worry, we are about to de-slime! K. Throw in your ginger and garlic and stir those nicely into everything and let them cook a bit but not burn. I like to keep the garlic really sharp in this recipe but if you want it to mellow, turn down the heat and let it cook for about ten minutes. Throw in your garam masala and your salt and let those absord all those slimy things at the bottom of your pan :) Now stir it all and cook it for like 2 minutes just until everything is well blended. What you should end up with is a kinda saoucy but not gravy or curry-like vegetable dish that pairs nicely with rice or flat bread.

Notice there is nothing spicy per se in this (Garam masala isn't actually really hot btw). You can add heat with cayenne pepper.

Fried Okra
This recipe is not healthy at all. It counts as a vegetable like french fries or potato chips count. Also, your house is about to smell very masala-y. It's extra good if you can get your hands on some amchoor to throw in the flour mixture as well.
*Frozen okra will not work here. Your could try, but I have little confidance that it'd work.

-1lb Okra, cut in half lengthwise (remove their little caps but leave the tips)
-1/2 cup flour
-3 tbs. garam or chaat masala
-3/4 cup peanut oil (enough to make about an inch deep pool in the pot)
-A pot.

K, It's okra shakin' time! Put your oil into your pot and heat it over high heat. Let it get good and hot. Throw your flour, masala, and salt to taste into a big ziplock bag and mix it well. Throw the okra in there and shake it up until each piece is really well coated. The flour will stick because of the okra slime, no milk or egg required! In batches small enough to fit comfortably in the bottom of that pot, fry your okra until it turns a nice golden brown. Lift them out with a wire strainer or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. I like to eat this in a roti or pita with some mixed pickle. It's really good because everything fried is pretty much awesome.

Ok. There you go. The okra post :)


  1. Okay, so what's the relative slime factors of these dishes, and how do I minimize it? Because I like the flavor but I admit the slime gets to me sometimes. Eric doesn't seem to mind it, though. He's way less picky about texture than I am.

    And of course, fried okra sounds deeeelicious but I'll have a hard time finding fresh around here. I think I've seen it at our local Harmon's before, but not recently. Next time I see it I'll have to grab some.

  2. Well the slime factor is really low on the stir-fry and the fried okra and minimal on the Indian one. The thing about okra is that the slime is really easily taken care of with enough powdered spices or even some flour/corn starch. Don't be afraid to throw some corn starch in there. It'll dry things right up.

  3. Okay, that makes sense. I'll have to try that.

  4. So we got hold of some fresh okra so I bought some and deep fried it. I don't think I got the oil hot enough, so there was still a little sogginess and slime factor for me, but the flavor was definitely interesting. And Eric didn't mind the texture. So whenever we try it again, definitely hotter oil.