I was able to buy some fresh okra on the market this morning.
Gemma threw up her hands!
'Why?!,' she asked 'we never manage to sell it! Nobody knows what to do with it...'
It is true - we do struggle to sell a whole box. So I asked my friend, Sujata Alvares, a cook experienced in the cuisine of her homeland, for some expert advice and tips. Sujata sent me a recipe - even she admits....
Okra is a tricky vegetable and people are often not very excited about cooking them. They are one of the few vegetables that are more suited to roasting and dry cooking; although their gumbo-like quality also make good gravy-based stews or curries.
Some tips when preparing Okra
Always make sure Okra is completely dry before cutting or cooking.
Always use a dry knife.
You could also slightly steam them whole, let them dry and cut them then.
Here is a very simple Okra dish for the uninitiated:
Wash Okra. Allow to dry or pat dry completely. Dry if your life depended on it!
Remove head and tail, chop into ¼ -1/3 inch thick circles.
In a non-stick or heavy bottom pan, heat oil on a medium flame. Add cumin seeds, when they begin to sizzle add garlic. Sauté for 15-20 seconds.
Add chopped Okra. Cook on medium-low. Stir occasionally, to stop them from sticking to the pan and to distribute the heat. Allow them to cook on their own. In 6-8 minutes they should turn darker and softer.
Add chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder and a little salt. Cook for 2 minutes until the tomatoes soften.
Mix in the red chilli powder, coriander powder. Stir well so all the Okra is coated.
Cook for 3-4 minutes over a low flame. Add salt to taste. Turn off flame.
(If you are using garam masala, sprinkle over the okra before turning off the flame)
Transfer to bowl and garnish with fresh coriander if you prefer.
Additional: If you can get your hands on Amchoor (dry mango powder), add ¼ teaspoon when mixing in the chilli powder and coriander powder. It gives the dish a lovely tangy flavour.
Serve with Indian roti or as an accompaniment with rice and lentil stew or dhal.
The taste tests are in - so far: 2 people thought Spicy Okra Fry was Yummy 0 thought Yuck. What about you - Yum or Yuck?!