Monday, September 26, 2011

Sorry H8ers..Okras' Back In Town

   Poor okra. Nobody loves her. She is a joke worse than spinach. The mere mention of her name at a party sends guests running for the hills. Nobody wants to have dinner with her. Every time her name comes up it's the same old thing..."No! Don't have her...She's slippery, she's slimy " Where's the love?
   Imagine growing up Okra. Those traumatic family reunions, you know when all the Malvaceae  clan get together. Don't even mention Thanksgiving. Sitting at the table with her beautiful older sister, international sex symbol Cocoa, the Angelina Jolie of the food world. I mean she just happens to be a natural aphrodisiac. Hello? how's a girl to compete?
   Of course there's her extremely successful older brother Jute, you know the Carpet King? He's all business and tough as nails. Everybody's really, really proud of him. There's perky younger brother Mallow, as in Marshmallow, always fun and another big favorite. Even her stinky Uncle Durian is sought after in certain circles. But poor poor Okra is the red headed step child of her family.., and I say that as a red head. So it's time for Okra to get a little respect. Props.
   As someone who cooks Indian food, I love working with okra, aka bindi or ladies fingers. It's a big favorite of the Indian kitchen. It's not always a favorite in my own kitchen however. Alan has been a slow convert to okra. He's got a major fear of "the slimes" so I usually go for a recipe that's spicy and crispy. But on the other hand, that's only one of many, many ways this vegetable can be cooked.
   The other day I saw beautiful okra at the market and I just had to have them. I told Alan we're having okra for lunch. Of course he wanted to know how I was going to fix it. "Not crispy," I told him "but you'll like it. It has yogurt.., and coconut!" One reluctant agreement later I was prepping my lunchtime okra. It didn't take long to have it on the table.

Okra Coconut Curry

Here's what to do:
Rinse and dry 1/2 lb of okra. Cut it into 1/2 inch slices.
Soak 2 Tbs of uncooked rice in  6 Tbs of water for 15 minutes.
 While all that is going on, heat 2 Tbs of oil in a skillet or kadhai.
 When the oil is hot toss in:
  1/2 tsp of mustard seeds
  1/4 tsp of fenugreek
  2 dried red chilies
  10 fresh or frozen curry leaves (these can be found at Indian and many Asian markets.)
 When the mustard seeds start to pop add in:
  2 medium red onions thinly sliced
  3 whole green chilies slit
Stir fry everything together until the onion is translucent.
Mix 1/2 tsp of ground turmeric into 2 cups of plain yogurt and set aside
Take the soaked rice and the water it was soaking in. Place it into a spice grinder or blender and whirl it into a paste.
Add the paste to the yogurt turmeric mixture, and set it aside.
Turn up the heat to high on the onions and chilies and add the okra to the mix
Stir fry everything for about 6 minutes until it's about half cooked through.
Turn down the heat so things don't curdle and pour the yogurt rice mixture into the pan.
Add salt to taste, stir everything together and let it all cook for another few minutes until the sauce has thickened.
Drizzle with 1 Tbs of coconut oil and serve it up.

   Put it together with rice or any sort of vegetable, or even a Western style entree, and you are all set. This is not your crispy fried okra. This is a creamy South Indian style okra curry that can bring the heat. If you 'd rather not have all the chilies, you can always scale things back a bit no problem. If you like okra, you'll love her in this silky yogurt gown, and if you're an okra h'8er this may just change your mind because as I've discovered, coconut is the vegan equivalent of bacon. It seems to make everything tastier.
   Coming up next, I take advice from Glutenfreegirl and give Jovial Gluten Free Pasta a road test.
 Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


  1. Kathy - As usual you amaze me. Never tried making Okra this way but I can't wait to give it a try. I imagine it must tatse a bit like dhoklas with okra?? Or kadhi with okra!!

  2. Ladies fingers just sound more flirtatious and tempting, eh? No haters here!

  3. This looks fantastic, your pictures are incredible!! :)

  4. Hi Kathy,first time in ur yumm blogg to find this rich and creamy Okra Curry.Luvly recipe with an appealing presentation.Thanks for sharing it.Following U.

  5. @MyKitchen Flavors-Bon Appetit!
    thanks so much for your kind comments...I love the food of South India..Following you back. I see you are in Chennai...was wondering if you are familiar with Viswanathan husband is a huge fan of his.

  6. Kelly@Eat Yourself Skinny,
    thanks so husband Alan takes all my photos. He'll work for food!

  7. Pickled Okra and Bloody Mary's!!!

  8. I am definitely going to try it right away!Just want to clarify whether you put only coconut oil or coconut powder also?

  9. @Abha,
    I use ground dried coconut in the paste mixture which is combined with the yogurt and then just before serving I drizzle 1 Tbs of coconut oil over the dish and serve

  10. Looks beautiful! This is a familiar dish, though when we make it with okra, we adda couple of cloves of onion in the ground mixture. A touch of cummin is also ground alongwith.



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