Friday, October 21, 2011

Okra vs Mallomars


   Okra. Yes, that's what's on that plate up there, like it or not. Love it or leave it. Okra. I just can't quit ya. Sometimes Alan wishes I could. Okra has become my dirty little secret, my Mallomars under the sink if you will. What do I mean by that? I'm getting to it.
   I grew up in a household where there weren't a lot of candies and sweet stuff allowed. Part of this was because I was a "metal mouth" and nothing is worse for a mouth full of very expensive braces than a great big 50 cent bar of Bonomo's Turkish Taffy... mmmm Bonomo's. It's back by the way, in case you hadn't heard. Yes, they are making Bonomo's again.


   Good news Ma. I can now wreck my teeth again! We weren't allowed soda either, so I never developed a Coke habit, (yeah that's a cheap shot) or a 7Up habit, or actually any sort of taste for sugary soft drinks. My mom and dad have always been into healthy eating. Except for one teensy weensy little habit. My mom's Mallowmar stash. It seems she kept a bag of Mallomar cookies under the sink , next to the cleanser and the mousetraps.


   I found them one evening. "What are these?" I asked.
   "They're for grown-ups (sure). You wouldn't like them. And put them back right now."
   I'd found my mothers' weakness. The Mallomars under the sink. Okra then is my Mallomars under the sink, except for the "you wouldn't like them part" which happens to be sadly true in most cases.

   In doing Mallomar experiments in my home laboratory with my professional lab-rat/photographer Alan, I've made a few discoveries. First, when it comes to Okra, crispy can cover a multitude of sins. There is nothing people hate more than slimy. That is when it comes to vegetables. Slimy in movie villians... Jeremy Irons, Alan Rickman, take a bow. Slimy okra however... no Oscars handed out there. So crispy, big plus.

   The next thing one needs in dealing with this tricky vegetable is spice. Pop things up. Okra on it's own is very plain Jane. Okra is not a loud vegetable. Spices are very welcome. Finally, one more thing, and this is the secret ingredient... peanuts and coconut. This comes from the Bacon Makes Everything Better school of thought. If one puts bacon or peanuts or coconut on anything it makes that anything absolutely deeeeeeelicious! That is exactly what I did in the latest okra dish I made. I added spice, I crisped it and added peanuts and coconut.


Okra With Peanuts and Coconut




Here's what to do:
Wash, clean and dry 1 lb of fresh okra.


Slice the Okra into 1/2 inch thick pieces.


In a heavy skillet or kadhai, heat 3 Tbs of vegetable oil.
When the oil is hot toss in:
 1/4 tsp of cumin seeds
 1 onion cut in half and thinly sliced, wearing your Onion Goggles if you've got 'em.


 1/2 Tbs of chopped shallot
 1 or 2 fresh green chilies slit in half


Stir fry the vegetables and spices until the okra starts to crisp up and the edges begin to brown. This should take about 10 minutes or so.
Turn down the heat and add in:
 2 Tbs of roasted chopped peanuts


 1/2 tsp of garam masala
Keep stirring and cooking for another 5 minutes.
Sprinkle in:
 1/2 tsp of salt
 2 tsp of lemon juice


Mix everything together well and put it into a serving bowl.
Just before serving, sprinkle the dish with 1 Tbs of grated unsweetened coconut.


Serve it up and enjoy.


   So there it is, Okra made tempting and crispy with peanuts and coconut. This is by no means the same as a Mallomar under the sink or otherwise, but it just may go a long way toward making this very under-appreciated vegetable a bit more popular around your house.

   Coming up next, I'm whipping up some sweet gluten free Diwali treats. No okra will be involved in those recipes... promise. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

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