21 March 2007

Quick and easy Bhindi Masala - Spicy stir fried okra

Bhindi masala - Up, close and personal

Bhindi / Okra / Lady's finger or Vendakkai is one of the favourite vegetables of my adulthood. When I was a kid, it was a different story. Like how it happens in many a Tambram family, my folks used to lure me with tales of how eating vendakkai ( the tamil word for Okra) can help me score full marks in Maths! I could never figure out the connection between eating bhindi and maths, unless ofcourse I was doing calculations on the huge number of seeds that came along with it, but hey we didn't argue much as kids did we?

When I read Manisha's post on Okra Kichadi, I realised that this vegetable has surprisingly never starred in any recipe in a lead role in the last one year.

Last evening, I had to catch up with some friends over dinner. So I decided to leave some delicious hot dinner for DH at home. Bhindi masala, rotis and a black grape raita were what made the impromptu menu, made with things that were outermost in my refrigerator.

I was inspired by Inji Pennu's wise words on sharing simple homely recipes for those who would benefit from it.

While this Bhindi masala is simple enough for beginners, the spices give it a Punjabi dhaba- kinda rich taste. Though I like my plain and simple okra stir fried Tamil brahmin style, sans any garlic or onions, this one is a crowd pleaser and most importantly - there is no grinding involved here!

I shall not duplicate Manisha's clear cut instructions on how to avoid the slime while cooking with okra. It's pretty much what I do and if you haven't handled this vegetable before, I suggest that you give it a reading to avoid any slimy disasters in the kitchen.

"I'm cooling off before she puts the lid on me"

Bhindi Masala ( Spicy okra stir fry )
Category - Vegetable , accompaniment to rice or rotis
Time taken - Under 30 minutes
Makes 2 large servings
Source - Own recipe

250 gms okra / bhindi / lady's finger
2 medium onions - halved and sliced thin
1 large tomato - halved and sliced thin

4 cloves garlic
1/2 inch fresh ginger root
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder / cayenne pepper
1 green chilli slit and chopped fine
1 सब्जी masala ( I use Everest brand SabjiMasala ) or garam masala
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp salt

1 -2 tbsp oil

prep work

4 peeled cloves of garlic and 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger - ground in mortar and pestle with a sprinkling of coarse salt

Wash and wipe dry young okras. Slice of tops and tails. Cut into half length wise and then chop in half or thirds as per length of okra. Make 2 cups of sliced okra, keep aside.


In a heavy bottomed or a non-stick pan, heat the oil. Put in the coarse ginger-garlic paste and stir for around a minute until there is no raw smell. Splutter the cumin seeds in oil next and then add the onions.

Stir the onions for a minute along with split green chilli. The okra slices go in next. Keep the flame on HIGH while stirring the whole mix together for 2-3 minutes. Take care that the contents are not allowed to stick to bottom of pan. Going generous with the oil will make sure that the okra is well coated and doesn't stick to the pan.

Once the okra are dark green and shiny, add the tomatoes with all the remaining spice powders with salt.

Keep the flame on medium-low and saute for about 5 minutes until the okra is done. Take care not to overcook okra and you'll have a vibrant green, high-flavour curry, where the taste of okra will still manage to stand out of all the dry spices used.

Okra overload
  • Ode to Okra in The Hindu
  • Tons of Okra info here along with gardening tips and recipes

This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Kathleen at Thyme for cooking.


trupti said...

That looks delicious...lovely colors..perfect with rotis.

Manisha said...

Looks like the problem with comments and your blog fixed itself. Phew!

Thanks for linking to my primer on how to cut okra. Now I have your bhindi masala - the picture is fabulous! - and Gini's recipe to try. Yum!

Nandita said...

Thanks Trupti...

Manisha, thank heavens I didn't end up losing the blog! Your primer said everything I'd have to say and more...so didn't want to duplicate the data :) Besides Padukotti's comment on dining hall helped me enable comments to this post, which had automatically turned itself off, funilly! Not to blow my own trumpet, but this was one of the best things I'd done with okra:)

Sig said...

Hey sweetie, just saw your post onn dininghall, good to know everything is working again.

Looks like Okra is the ingredient of the month... everyone is featuring it... Your picture looks too good, will try this for sure, I love okra in any form.

Nandita said...

Sig, Been missing you...actually haven't logged on to msn messenger...will catch you tomorrow...hope you like guys like okra in this form!

Anita said...

Okra is looking its bright green self. It was a while before I could cook bhindi that would not be all mushy - I figured out it is the 'high heat and no cover' trick that works well, and as you said, keeps it bright and fresh looking too.

Great everyday recipe.

Naked Desserts said...

Love okra! I too got conned into its math improving prowess!Will try your recipe this weekend, Nandita. By the way did you make any fruitcake for last Christmas? Do post pictures if you did.

Jyothsna said...

Oh finally your comments are working!!:) I absolutely love bhindi, and your non-slimy version is simply fabulous :)

Snehal said...

hi nandita! that picture is so yummy, i could gobble it up :).

Both hubby and I love okra, but sadly we hardly ever get it here in Sydney and even when we do for a month or so it is exorbitantly priced and tough and chewy. Any tips on making it soft but not soggy and sticky besides using lemon juice? The sabji I eventually make from frozen bhindi never cooks through, stays quite tough :(

Nandita said...

Here's to everyday recipes Anita!

Malini, I very much made the fruitcake and used your recipe, did manage to take soem pics before I left for my holiday but they didn't turn out that great...may be i should post your recipe and the bad pic of the super cake, just for records sake - what say!

Jyothsna - thankfully things are up and running now ;)

Snehal - that's sad that you dont get bhindi there...I have no idea how to soften because I have only used it fresh...how about a pinch of baking powder - a tiny pinch wont change the taste but may soften the toughies...Havent been to your blog in a while, must bookmark it!

Paddukoti said...

hey nandita!!
wonderful bhindi!!!
i would love to cook this version!!!will update u how it came..And good eveything is sorted now!!

Coffee said...

Now that one cool looking templete!!!!! And great bhindi as well!!!!

Called you sometime around 10th march.... but your phone was out of reach :( . Then I got busy and forgot :(

Next time. :)

musical said...

Ekdum mast :).

That was some yummy picture, Nandita :).

Helene said...

Thanks for posting with so many interesting links. I´ll take this an my list to have it present when I get the chance to buy fresh okras here. The colour is beautiful, it must taste delicious!! :)

Kalyn said...

Your blog is looking really great. I haven't eaten okra that much (maybe that's why I'm so bad at math!) I do like it in gumbo though, and I'd love to try something like this. I'll have to look for it when the farmer's market gets going here.

Nandita said...

Padmaja - All sorted and thanks to you! Do let me know how you liked it!

Musical - Haha it sure tasted mast and since I made this when it was still sunny, the daylight made this pic really bright :) and mast

Coffee - Oh Im sorry I missed your call! Next time then.

Helene & Kalyn - Thanks for coming over Helene. You may really find this a different tasting okra as ths is a uniquely Indian way of preparation, we generally make it dry, although there are some curry recipes too.
Kalyn, thanks for your sweet words...the template may look diff each time as I am still experimenting with the best look to go with my posts. Cya around often. Warm regards. And do try okra this way, you can eat with brown rice pilaf or so, will taste delicious

MK said...

I just happened to come across ur blog...you have some amazing recipes....Thank you so much for sharing

Swati said...

Looks so yummy...feel like eating it :)

Ronak said...

Hi, I just made the Bhindi Masala tonight and it was so yummy! Thank you for an easy and a tasty bhindi recipe!! :)

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