I have this wonderful neighbor Ranjana whom I met about three years ago when our kids were classmates at school, and we have hit it off ever since. She’s an accomplished journalist, and constantly regales me with her tales of travel, when we get together for a cup of coffee or chai. She has encouraged, critiqued, and educated me about my writing, for which I am grateful.
We see each other about twice a month, if not more. To say we feel comfortable in each others homes would be an understatement. Being an avid gardener, she makes it her duty to check on all my plants. She happily revives and re-pots them if they look near-death. My husband and I jokingly call her our Plant Whisperer. Similarly, I make myself at home in her kitchen, and give her ideas or chop stuff up for her dinner.
Ranjana grew up being a vegetarian in India, and inspires me to cook a lot of vegetables. She once brought me this tasty okra dish for dinner. I immediately asked her for the recipe, especially because okra and I have not had a happy history together. Whenever I’d tried to make it in the past, I seemed to get it right. Until now. I’ve made this recipe twice, and I’m happy to report that bhindi and I are friends now. I added the skillet ingredients to the recipe because my husband thought the dish could use a spice boost, but you could skip that step if you wish to keep it authentic. If you like okra, give this recipe a go – and maybe hand a plate of it to your neighbor. Who knows, they might just become your new buddy.
This is how it’s made :
- Wash and chop all your okra. I used about 40 medium size ones.
- Heat a wok, add ¼ cup of oil. Put in all the chopped okra and cook for 5 minutes on high heat, stirring constantly.
- Put in 2 heaped tbsp of cooked onions. Turn down the heat to medium, and keep stirring for another 5 minutes until the onions are caramelized.
- Add in ½ tsp salt, 2 slit chillies, ½ tsp coriander powder, ½ tsp cumin powder and ¼ tsp each of chilli powder and turmeric.
- Toss continuously over medium heat for 7-8 minutes until the okra is cooked. Any changes in heat will result in soggy okra. Do NOT cover the wok at any time. Turn off heat.
- On another burner, heat a small skillet, and pour in 1 tbsp oil. Add in 1 tbsp grated ginger, ½ tsp cumin seeds, 7-8 curry leaves and ¼ tsp mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds begin to pop, stir for 10 seconds, turn off the heat and pour this oil+spice mix into the okra. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the top. Toss well, taste and check for salt. Serve warm with rotis.