Recipe: Easy Okra
Many people discount okra from their vegetarian options because they fear it is a slimy vegetable. True. It can become slimier as it cooks, but there is a way to avoid this problem completely. Cook it this way. I deliberately included this recipe in my cookbook “Crack the Code: cook any Indian meal with confidence” (2016, Foreword, Faye Levy) – because it is a simple recipe, and once you cook it this way, you won’t look back.
The “tiers” correspond to the tiers of cooking, and to understand that better, you’ll have to look into “Crack the Code”. Thousands of people have loved this way of cooking - and you will too.
Tip: Frozen okra is fine for this recipe. Open the bag, and discard any pieces that have the top crown of the okra. That’s the one that has the most ‘slime’. During the cooking, be sure to use a large spatula and sweat out the condensation quickly and completely before covering it during the final cooking steps. A spot of acid eliminates the slime as well, but tomatoes add more water back. Use lemon/lime juice to add the souring element in Tier 6.
Recipe is taken completely from my book, “Crack the Code” including the headnote.
(Tiers 1, 3, 5, 6)
I love a batch of fresh good okra, one that is just picked and is still most from the dew of the fields. It is the first dish my husband made for me, and I knew that if a charming but geeky Indian bachelor could make Indian-styled okra well, he was a keeper. In addition to tasting fabulous, ayurvedic practitioners believe that okra is beneficial to patients with ailments such as cholesterol, diabetes, stomach ulcers and digestive disorders.
Tip: Good fresh okra suitable for Indian cooking is not difficult to find. Unlike other cuisines, okra pods used in Indian are seldom stewed in a liquid – a process that helps tenderize most vegetables. When buying fresh okra, pick ones that are as long as your fingers. Wash them and wipe them individually with a paper towel or dish towel to ensure they are completely dry. Trim away the top just under the crown and the bottom. Slice them into rings or lengthwise. Thinner segments or rings may burn quickly, so the rings should be no less than 1/8th inch in thickness. Check the seeds, if they are brown, the okra pod is old and must be discarded. This recipe incorporates tiers one, three, five and six from the code.
Makes: 8 servings
Diet: Vegan, Gluten-free
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time, Ease: 20 minutes, easy
2 tbsp. oil
¾ tsp. mustard seeds
½ cup of finely diced red or white onions
1 tsp. ginger paste
1 tsp. garlic paste
¼ tsp. turmeric powder
1½ tsp. cayenne pepper powder
¾ tsp. cumin powder
¾ tsp. coriander powder
1 lb of fresh okra, trimmed as mentioned above
¼ cup finely cubed Idaho potato (optional)
½ tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sugar
¼ cup cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)
Heat the oil in a large wok. As it warms up, add the mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add the onions and sauté until lightly golden. Then add the ginger and garlic paste and sauté until fragrant. Add the turmeric, cayenne pepper powder, cumin powder and coriander powder, give it a quick stir. If adding potatoes, add them now and allow them to cook for 3-4 minutes on their own. Then add the trimmed okra and mix well until the spices are evenly distributed over the vegetables. Lightly cover the okra, leaving room for the steam to escape. Allow this to cook on low for about 8-10 minutes. Stir every few minutes to ensure even cooking. Check midway to see how well the okra is cooking. Once cooked the okra will change color from bright green to an ochre-brown, without being burnt. Season it with salt and add the lemon juice and sugar. Stir once more and cook uncovered for about 2 minutes more until the flavors have combined. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve hot with breads of choice or add a side of daal and rice for a well-balanced gluten free meal.