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.
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.)
2 medium red onions thinly sliced
3 whole green chilies slit
Mix 1/2 tsp of ground turmeric into 2 cups of plain yogurt and set aside
Turn up the heat to high on the onions and chilies and add the okra to the mix
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.
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