I think okra is a much maligned and underrated vegetable. A lot of people think it's slimy and hairy and with that reputation, why would you want to eat it? I used to think the same way when I was little. We'd have it at home steamed and served with bagoong, a Filipino shrimp paste. We'd also have it in a stew of pork, bitter melon, and pumpkin called pinakbet. However, it wasn't until I had okra in a variety of East Indian curry dishes that I became smitten. Those dry Indian curries make okra taste sweet, nutty and blog worthy.
I remember planting okra in school because they're easy to grow in warm weather. And, while we're extolling its virtues, I might as well add that they're a good source of fuzzy fiber, folate, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium. For this recipe, choose pods that are about as long as your pinkie or index finger. If you use younger pods, the more tender, less hairy and slimy they're going to be. Make sure they're a bright green in colour, firm and have no black spots or blemishes.
500 g okra
1 large onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 t ground turmeric
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t chilli powder
5 T vegetable oil
sea salt flakes, to taste
squeeze of lemon, if desired
coriander leaves for garnishing
Wash okra and dry well with a kitchen towel. Remove base and stalk then cut into 2 cm lengths.
Heat 2 T of oil in a large non-stick fry pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add okra and cook until slightly tender. Remove from pan and set aside.
While pan is still hot, add 3 T oil and heat for 2 minutes. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic then continue to cook until onions are golden brown. Add spices and salt and cook for 1 minute. Turn heat down to low. Return okra to the pan and stir so the onions are well distributed. Cook until okra is tender, stirring occasionally. Check for seasoning and add salt if needed. Add squeeze of lemon juice, if desired. Garnish with coriander leaves.
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