Bhindi (okra, also spelled “bhendi”) is a really popular ingredient in Indian, North African, and Middle Eastern cuisines. This masala recipe uses basic ingredients most westerners have on hand in their pantries, and it is a nice change from the usual American Southern-style deep fried and gumbo preparations. Full disclosure: I prepared this vegan dish with jasmine rice as a main course for lunch. The flavors were great, but Rami and I were both pretty hungry a few hours after eating. I recommend adding kidney beans, chopped cooked chicken, or tofu to this dish if you want to serve it as an entree.
1 lb okra, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. ginger powder or 1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp. turmeric
1 pinch red pepper flakes, to taste
1 tsp. salt
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped or 16 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
2 Tbs. water, as necessary
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped (optional. Good, but not worth buying a whole bunch at the market just for this recipe.)
Rinse, dry, and chop the okra. Put a few paper towels on a plate near your work station and then heat oil in a large frying pan. Once oil shimmers, add okra to the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so that all pieces brown evenly. Meanwhile, prepare other vegetables. When okra is tender, use a slotted spoon to move it to the paper towel-lined plate. Add onions, garlic, and spices to the oily pan, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Once garlic is tender, add peppers and continue to stir. Add a little water if needed to keep sufficient moisture in the pan. As peppers become tender, add tomatoes and additional water if needed. Stir and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes. Finally, add okra into mixture. Serve with rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.