Spicy Pan Fried Okra (Bhindi Masala)

I love okra.  My neighbor, Billy brought me this lovely okra from his garden.  I decided to make Bhindi Masala.  The okra in this dish is not at all slimy.  This is a classic Northern Indian recipe.  The original recipe uses dried pomegranate seeds instead of tomatoes for tartness.  Tomatoes are native to South America so the original Indian recipes do not have tomato.  My neighbor also brought me these amazing tomatoes, so I decided to use them.  These days tomatoes are used in many Indian recipes.

INGREDIENTS:

Bhindi Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of fresh okra
  • 6 plum tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 inches of ginger
  • 1 inch of fresh turmeric
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of garam masala (this is a hot Indian spice mix.  I make my own, but you can buy it at an Indian grocery store)
  • 10 sprigs of cilantro leaves
  • grapeseed oil for cooking
  • salt and pepper to taste

PREP:

Bhindi Prep

  • Slice okra into thin discs.  Discard the stems.
  • Slice the onion into long thin slices
  • Pull the cilantro leaves off their stems
  • Finely dice the ginger.  If the skin is fresh leave it on.  If the skin is dried out, peel the ginger.
  • Dice the tomatoes
  • Finely mince the green chili

FRYING THE OKRA:  Frying the okra on high heat burns off the slime.  The result is an okra dish that is not at all slimy.

  • Coat a heavy non-stick skillet with grapeseed oil
  • Turn the heat on high and let the oil heat up till it is very hot
  • Add the okra in a single layer.  You may have to cook the okra in batches.  Coat the pan with more grapeseed oil after frying each batch.  If you put more than a layer of okra in the pan it will steam instead of fry.
  • Fry the okra until it is dark brown and the slime has burned off.  Let the okra sit for 4-5 minutes.  Then stir.  Then let it sit for 4-5 minutes and then stir again.  Keep doing this until no more slime appears when you stir.
  • Remove the okra from the pan into a glass bowl.  Let it sit while you make the spicy base.

COOKING THE SPICY BASE:

Bhindi Cook 1

  • Place the onions, ginger, and chilies in a large, heavy stainless steel skillet.
  • Grate in the fresh turmeric.  I love the flavor of fresh turmeric.  You can buy turmeric when it is available  and store it in the freezer.  Pull out a piece 5 minutes before you are ready to grate it.  It grates well when it is fresh or partially frozen.  Don’t thaw it out fully because it will get mushy.  I usually buy fresh turmeric at the Indian grocery store.  I have on occasion seen it at my local supermarket, but it is more expensive than at the Indian grocery store.  You can also use powdered turmeric, but it will be added later along with the garam masala.  Do not add it at this point because the powder will burn.
  • Add a little grapeseed oil and sauté the aromatics, on medium heat, till the onions turn golden.
  • Make a hot spot in the center and add the tomato paste
  • Cook the tomato paste for a minute and then stir it in

Bhindi Cook 5

  • Stir in the garam masala and let it toast for 1 minute.  If you are using powdered turmeric instead of fresh, add it along with the garam masala.
  • Add the tomatoes and cilantro leaves
  • Stir and let the tomatoes cook down for 5 minutes
  • Add the fried okra
  • Stir and cook for 5 minutes
  • Add salt and pepper to taste

Transfer to a platter and serve family style.  It is usually eaten with rotis, dal and yogurt.  I have not yet posted my recipe for rotis (an Indian flat bread), but here are the links for Autumn Dal (split mung beans with kale) and My Mom’s Yogurt.

Bhindi masala can also be served as a side dish with any meat or fish.  I like topping it with Amritsari Masala Fish.

Amritsari Masala Fish IG

The dish as served above makes a yummy, satisfying and figure-friendly meal.  ENJOY !!!

 

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