Monday, 8 August 2011

Crispy Okra Fries

Okra or green lady fingers as my Dad would often call them in order to make them appeal to me and my siblings curiosity; and in the hope that we would enjoy eating them as an exotic vegetable.  It didn't work, the gelatinous texture always deterred us.  However we were always in awe at its enchanting name 'green lady fingers' to us sounded like 'Green Goddess'.  Just imagine if they had been purple - 'the purple lady'.  Purple okra does exist, I remember last year fellow blogger, little black fox mentioning them and the possibility that she may be growing some this year, I wonder if she ever did. 

In the past I've shared one okra recipe that I could stomach eating.  Here is another one that I think you may also approve of.

Crisp Okra translated and known in the South Asian community as Akri Bhindi or Kurkuri Bhindi.  Imagine tempura and french fries combined, well I can only describe this as okra fries.
In order to elevate this recipe further, you do need to have a well stored spice cupboard as this relies on ingredients that are not often found in some peoples kitchen.  The two that I am referring to here are Garam masala and chaat masala.  Garam Masala is a blend of aromatic warm spices that includes coriander, cumin and cloves.  Garam Masala is often used as a flavouring in South Asian dishes sprinkled on dals, stirred into natural yoghurt or here as an additional seasoning.  Chaat masala is also a spice blend.  It traditionally consists of dried mango powder (amchoor), black salt (kala namak), coriander, cumin, dried ginger, black pepper, asafoetida, salt and chili powder. This spice combination produces a sweet and sour taste, reminisce of tamarind but in powder form. It is used to flavour a number of South Asian fast food dishes found at melas and fairground attractions, such as Aloo Chaat, dahi puri,and golgappay.  Its also great just scattered over sliced fruit like oranges, apples and pears.  I find that there is something quite addictive about chaat masala - In the past, I would often found myself dipping my fingers into the container.  I know, I know its a bad habit - that's why I don't do it anymore, not particularly hygienic.

I am not expecting you to go out and buy spices to make your own garam masala or chaat masala as there are plenty of supermarkets that now sell the spices ready made.  I hope you can find some.  If not, you can still make this recipe without, it will still be fine - just not as spicy.
You can enjoy the crispy okra fries simply as light nibbles, but I wanted to make more of a meal of it so made some spicy tomato sauce and served it with plain Basmati rice.
Crisp Okra Fries
Serves 4
Ingredients
260g fresh okra
Optional: 4 red chilli peppers
1 small onion
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon Garam masala or chaat masala 
60g chickpea flour
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Method
Cut the okra, chilli and onion into think julienne strips.  Add all the spices and flour and mix well to coat all the vegetables, you may need a teaspoon of water to combine.
Heat the oil and then fry the okra mixture until crisp and browned.  Drain and serve immediately; or stirred into the spiced tomato sauce.

For the spicy tomato sauce
Ingredients
8 tomatoes, roughly chopped or 1 x 400ml tin of tomatoes
2 - 4 long red chillies
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped
2 teaspoon of ground cumin
½ teaspoon of turmeric
2 teaspoons of paprika
2 teaspoons of garam masala
Salt to taste
6 tablespoons of sunflower oil
Optional: Handful of fresh coriander, minced
Method
In a food processor, blend the tomatoes, chilli, ginger and spices to a smooth puree. Season with salt to taste. Then in a wide pan, heat the oil. Add the blended sauce to the pan and fry over high heat for a few minutes. Then lower the heat and simmer for 35 – 40 minutes, about halfway through the process add about 200ml water to loosen the sauce.
When sauce is ready, gently add the crisp okra fries and heat together for a few minutes.  Garnish with optional coriander.

13 comments:

  1. What a fabulous looking recipe! I love chaat masala (I've been known to sprinkle it on popcorn),I've never tried it on sliced apples, I must give that a try!

    And yes, I grew okra this year, both purple and green. It was interesting to try, but I don't think I'll be doing it again soon. They're not really suited to the north of England, even in a polytunnel. They take up a lot of space for a small yield (you get 3 or 4 pods from a plant), and they're a bugger to harvest, being covered in irritating hairs that give you a rash. they also go from ripe to woody & tough overnight.
    But still, I'm glad I tried, they're really interesting plants!
    Much love, dear friend

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  2. That looks yum! I've always been a fan of okra - bhindi bhajee from the local indian takeaway is delish :)
    Never even considered growing them before though(although reading what littleblackfox says, I may never grow them!)
    I'm looking forward to having a read through the rest of your blog x

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  3. that looks really crispy and yum

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  4. Yummy...I gotta try this one!
    When I was a kid, I did not like the slimy texture of okra and the seediness of eggplants. now, i have grown to like them, in my old age.
    Peace :)

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  5. I LOVE okra! I normally roast it in the oven--these look great!!

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  6. Thank you for the Blogger tip. It worked. I've tried eating this loathsome veggie different ways and could never get past the texture, I'm sorry to admit.

    Best to you!

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  7. Thanks littleblackfox.
    Chaat masala on popcorn, I have to admit I've not tried it - but memembers of my family may have. I wil have to ask.

    Thanks for giving me the lowdown on your okra
    growing ventures. Shame about your results.
    I know some of my readers will be interested too. x


    Thank you so much for your lovely comment sweetpea. It is most appreciated.

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  8. Thanks Chitra.


    Thanks Chandra.
    I think many of us disliked the slimy texture of okra when children; and the seediness of eggplants. Like you now i have grown to like them, yes it is in our old age we come to appreciate such flavours and textures :)

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  9. Thanks DD.


    Thanks Jess - I'll have to try them oven roasted next time. Do you have a recipe to share?


    So good to read it worked e.
    I'm sorry that you've not found a likeable way with okra...it could still change.
    Warm wishes to you!

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  10. I would have never thought of okra fries!
    I really must put up my bhindi-piyaaz recipe for you. I guarantee it's delicious and not at all slimy ;-)

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  11. What a simple, yet new way of cooking Okra; will defiantly be trying this :)

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  12. Thanks Grapefruit.
    I think calling them okra fries sounds far more appealing too!
    Please do put your bhindi-piyaaz recipe. I'll def. check it out and who knows make it, but before I do I have been given an okra gumbo recipe to try at some point too ;-) So if its not this year, it may be next year


    Thank you so much Charlotte Aimée Clarke.
    So lovely to make your acquaintance. I so hope you get round to making this - even if its just the okra fries :)

    ReplyDelete

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