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Okra with Indian spices

May 252011
 
Bhindi Masala

Dark! Deep! Mysterious- This lady’s finger will make you twirl and sing to its tune and you will irrevocably be in a culinary love.  It’s Feisty, Spunky and full of Flavor. Make this on a rainy day in spring with home made roti that has seen the touch of ghee and you will be truly madly deeply in Love.

Why Okra or Bhindi is called  the Lady’s finger – is a secret that many have tried to find out. The secret stays elusive – even to the modern tell-all looking glass ( Google and Wiki ). And if you thought the ritualistic macarena dance will help – forget it. I should know- I tried it a few hundred times before I decided I should let the lady have her secret!

But be warned -there are some rituals that you still need to follow if  you do not want a viscous monster to attack your cooking pot.

Here is a brief list of such rituals :

  1. She  likes a nice warm bath to get the dirt off – she gathers this during travels from distant lands.
  2. Then she likes a slow blotting off of the water with a cotton kitchen towel or a paper towel. Gentle drying up so you don’t damage her delicate skin.Ignore this step and get the vicious viscous monster at your service!
  3. Then the ends have to be trimmed off  - get her in a gorgeous shape ! be a stylist.
  4. She loves heat! Cook on medium high heat.

Gather the following and we shall set out on another culinary adventure!

  • 1 pound bhindi/Okra/Lady’s finger
  • 1 /2 c tomato chopped
  • 1/2 c onion chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp ginger paste
  • 1/4 tsp chaat masala or amchur powder
  • 1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • salt to taste
  • 3-4 tbs cooking oil

The Ritual :

  1. Once you have done the drying and styling, cut the okra into one inch pieces ( roughly – you don’t have to be exact)
  2. Heat the oil. Add the okra and onions together. Gently stir.
  3. Cook on medium high heat until the onions get translucent.
  4. Now cook on medium low to allow the okra to cook.
  5. Keep an eye on the temperature. You do not want to let this dish sweat – the okra may get gooey with the addition of vapors.
  6. As soon as the okra gets a little brown, add the salt and everything else, except the tomatoes.
  7. Stir Gently. allow it to cook on low heat. If the spice seems to be getting stuck to the pan, add some more oil. No water!
  8. Once the spices are incorporated into the vegetables, add the tomatoes.
  9. Cook for a few minutes to let the tomatoes cook and mix well with the rest of the dish.
  10. Done! Now you can do your ritualistic dance! The one you do at the delightful feeling of having cooked a great meal!

Notes:

a) If you are not serving this immediately, you may want to add the tomatoes right before serving. Reheat the dish, add tomatoes, cook for a couple of minutes and serve. This helps to keep the slime at bay.

b) when you buy okra, look for small tender ones. They should be clear  green with no dark spots. Stay away from the woody ones!

 

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