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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Okra Stir Fry - Bhindi Sabji

Okra is my favorite vegetable. When I was a kid, I could always have a second or even a third helping of  this vegetable. I have rarely met people who don't like okra. Now, those who have attempted to cook with it, will know that this can be a sticky vegetable, especially when it comes into contact with moisture. So, the key is to start with okra that has been wiped and is dry. You do not want to use okra that has just been washed and is dripping with water. By reducing the moisture,  you can reduce the amount of stickiness of the okra and also, let the okra cook through till it starts getting crisp. Once the moisture evaporates the okra will have the perfect texture and there will be no sticky or slimy texture when you serve it.

2 tbsp oil
1/8 tsp mustard seeds
1/8 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 green chillies (to taste)
a pinch of asafoetida powder/hing
5-8 curry leaves (optional)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
20-30 okra/bhindi/bhendi, sliced into thin pieces
2 tsp goda masala (optional)
1/2 tsp sugar
salt to taste

Heat the oil, add mustard and cumin seeds. Once the mustard seeds crackle, add the hing powder, green chillies and curry leaves. Add the turmeric and then add the okra slices and mix well. As the okra cooks it will start releasing moisture and will release some stringy moisture. At this point, let it cook through. Stir it and let it cook till the okra starts becoming dry on medium heat. Stir it once in a while so that it doesn't stick to the base of the pan and slowly it will start becoming crisper and brown. Once it's as crispy as you want it, add the goda masala, and let it cook for a minute or two. Then add the sugar and salt. Stir and turn off the heat. Serve hot with some hot rotis.

I generally wash the okra a couple of hours or the night before I plan to cook it. Then I let it dry on a towel on my kitchen counter. Then I store this in the fridge if I cook it the next day. Do not add salt till the end, as it will increase the amount of moisture released by the okra. If you don't have goda masala on hand, you can substitute some dhania-jeera powder instead (cumin-corriander powders). You can skip the "goda masala" at the end and it will still be one of the tastiest okra preparations.


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