Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Ochre okra in masala

The Okra has many wonderful names, bhindi, bamia, gumbo and lady fingers.
But the thought of eating them, does not excite everyone including me. Although rather elegant on the outside, once pierced or sliced you note the texture, rather slimy like snot. And this itself is completely off putting. For them to pass my mouth, they have to be completely transformed. This dish is known as Masala Bhindi is one way I have come to eat okra.
Here they are sliced - I know some people will disapprove of me cutting them this way, as they like to keep okra whole when cooking. But okra cooked whole for me retains what I dislike about okra - its viscous glue like texture. Upon cutting you will see the tiny white seeds and the slimy texture will ooze out a little and touch your fingers. But don’t worry so much, let me assure you upon cooking the okra this way, the okras glutinous juice thickens sauce and completely leaves the okra rather silky and rather tasty.

I also think it looks rather pretty like this: a bowl of spiced green stars. Now that’s a good way to get your little ones to try them, just go easy on the spices.
Well to make this dry okra salan (curry) was not my idea. A couple of days ago, we went into KRK Continental Grocers, (a Pakistani owned grocery store) just near my old University to pick up some spices. D then saw these long green elongated lady fingers tempting him. He looked at me and said ‘I wouldn’t mind having some okra this week’. I know we’ve just missed the okra season and its not locally grown either, but its not often he makes these requests, so of course we did. Sometimes, you got to treat yourself, that’s of course if you see okra as a treat and D obviously does.

Traditionally you would eat it with a roti aka chapatti, but I think tortilla wraps work just as well. I know as I've eaten it that way.
Okra Salan or Masal Bhindi
Serves 4
150g full fat butter or ghee
2 medium onions, minced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 inch of ginger, grated or minced
1 teaspoon of salt or to taste
1 teaspoon chilli powder or to taste
½ teaspoon of turmeric powder
Optional: 2 fresh chillies, sliced
4 fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped or 1 x 400g tin tomatoes, chopped
250g – 300g okra, topped, tailed and sliced
In a large wide pan, melt butter then add the minced onions and garlic and cook until transparent, add the spices, ginger and the optional fresh chillies and cook until the fat of the butter separates, by this I mean comes to the surface. Add the tomatoes and cook until well integrated (mash in if you wish). Be patient and allow the butter to come to the surface again. When this happens, then add in the okra. Stir in, let the okra simmer on high heat in the buttery tomato sauce for a couple of minutes, before turning the heat down and allowing the vegetables to cook through (about 20 - 25 minutes). During this cooking process, stir from time to time to stop the vegetables from sticking to the pan. The butter will clarify (rise to the surface) for a final time, this for me is an indication that the dish is nearly ready. Make sure the vegetables are tender and serve immediately as a dry salan. Eat this dish warm and quick, as its not particularly nice cold. Serve with rice, roti, chapatti or tortilla wraps.


  1. I am not a great fan of okra either, I remember as a child mom used to force me to eat it and I hated the gluey texture..but this looks fine, I might attempt it to change the way I look at it LOL

  2. Hello,
    I would just like to say your blog is the best blog I have been on in ages. I have an allotment and find it difficult to use the seasonal produce in new and exciting ways and you have helped me do this. I love the photos and easy to follow instructions and the fun bits you throw in. Thank you so much.
    This post has convinced me to try okra, as I too have been put off in the past.

    Charley x

  3. YUM! I love okra - we don't get it much up here in the frigid north country - but we loved it when we were down south...

  4. Thanks MoOn. Should you get round to making a version of this, i do hope it does def. change the way you look at okra.

    Oh Charley,
    You are so kind. You comment has made me so happy this evening. It confirms and comforts me to know that my blog is doing what i set it out to do: trying to cook with seasonal veg in more interesting ways (although this post is not very seasonal). Thank you so much. I don't know if you know, but I no longer have an allotment, I lost it in a fire early this year, so grow very little in my tiny garden plot, pots and containers. This year most of the veg has been supplemented by farmers markets, farm shops and National Trust properties that sell produce from their gardens, grocers and now with the season changing - supermarkets.

    Thank you so much affectioknit.
    Truth be told, I don't get to eat much okra either, so it was a nice change.

  5. Hello dear! For someone that has a problem with food being of a certain texture, okra does not bother me. I love it. I make a mean gumbo courtesy of cajun chef Paul Prudhomme (I think I posted it last year or year before!) It's so yummy and comforting, even though it never gets too cold here. I wonder when it is in season here?

    I also have made it in an Indian curry and your recipe is so darn easy! It looks divine and what the hell am I doing on your blog before dinner and torturing myself? haha!

    By the way, I posted the pumpkin lasagna recipe if you want to check it out! Cheers!

  6. Your photos of Okra are beautiful and make them look like the very special vegetable that they are. The recipe is even better. A "must try" that sound delightful.

  7. Thanks for this recipe and the photos mangocheeks. I've seen okra at the market but have never been game to try it and haven't known what to do with it. Will be giving your recipe a go.

  8. Oooh, I love okra! Though I don't like it whole, the texture gives me the wiggins so i usually halve them. These little star shapes look beautiful (from now on my okra will be star-shaped!). I'm hoping to try growing some okra next year (but being me, I'll be growing purple okra instead of the usual green!)
    I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again
    I really love your blog!
    It's a wonderful source of ideas, inspiration & beautiful photos
    Much love!

  9. Hello LaDivaCucina.
    I am liking the sound of your your 'mean gumbo'. Please do send me a link. In the U.K its in season during the sumemr, just missed it.
    So glad you like my spiced okra dish.

    Will be on my way over to check out your pumpkin!

    Your so welcome veggiegobbler.
    Hope you like :D

    Thank you so much for your lovely warming comment/compliment littleblackfox. I am always humbled to read such kind words.

    Agree with you that whole okra gives some people the 'wiggins'. I must try and half them next time I cook with them. So pleased you like the little star shapes.

    If I had an allotment and live in awarmer climate, I too would try growing some purple okra. For now, I'll be content watching your grow, so don't forget to post on your blog :)

    Much love to you too my dear blogger friend!

  10. Here you go sweetie! It is delicious. It uses andouille sausage and shrimp but if you omit, you can perhaps use some soy sausage or something else for texture? Let me know how it turns out, I love it. It's a cute little post with some info on our Haitian culture here in Miami too! x


  11. I think I will have to have a go it looks yummy.

  12. Love your photos!
    I love Bhindi Masala, though I make mine a little differently and have been meaning to blog about it forever but never get around to it.
    Thanks for inspiring me to get around to it before Bhindi goes out of season!

  13. LaDivaCucina.
    Thank you so much! If I don't get round to making it this year and chances are I will not, I will def. have a go next year - veggie version of course x

    Thank you madebymum.

    Thank you Grapefruit.
    Every home cook has thre own version and I look forward to seeing your Bhindi Masala.

  14. Hi mangocheeks - glad to see you giving Okra a go - I love the stuff. I was converted during my Uni years and now have to have 'ladyfingers' whenever we find them fresh or frozen - which isn't often in East Yorkhire!

  15. Thank you for sharing freerangegirl.
    It shows that cooked a different way, people will see the okra in a postive light.

  16. This is such an interesting looking recipe! I want to taste!!! You amaze me with your cooking and pictures! Always!

  17. Thank you Morgan.
    The butter can be subbed with a vegan alternative.

  18. I love South Asian dishes with okra - they are one of my favourite vegetables. I too prefer to cut them up for cooking.. don't like them whole at all!

  19. Thank you so much for coming by Ladybird.

  20. Great blog. I love dry okra curry, and your recipe looks lovely! This was the first way I ever had okra, and it's wonderful because the slime really cooks away in this method. My okra is still going strong in New Mexico, but we'll have our first frost in a couple weeks. It grows so well in extremely hot weather, and this summer has been so hot everything else is really suffering.

  21. Thank you Amy.
    This is my fave way to eat okra (as well as deep fried in chickpea batter).
    You are so lucky to be able to grow your own. A good thing if your an okra convert.

  22. sounds grt loved ur version. i dont like okra. but sure i will try ur recipe.

  23. Thank you Jaisy.
    Do hope you like.

  24. Okra are yummy. I don't use nearly as much spice as you though.
    We always cut them up at home as okra are prone to getting little worms inside so I would never ever eat it whole in a curry!
    The slime is worsened by any water so to reduce it (and also to help with removing dirt that doesn't wash off), once you have rinsed the okra in cold water, wipe each one thoroughly with a paper towel.
    We often eat ours with plain basmati rice when lazy me cannot be bothered with making rotlis. Yum yum yum.

  25. My husband brought me some dried ochre powder back from Africa. Any suggestions as to how I cook with it, please? Gill, UK.


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