okra: so good in so many ways


spicy okra

Tonight I decided to go for something spicy – something to complement my doggy-bag leftovers from Saturday night’s curry from Shaahs in Cookham (amazing what a day makes – I had found the curry quite bland on Saturday night, but tonight it’s flavours had come through in very pleasant way).   Anyhow, the lovely greengrocers in Bourne End just happened to have some big, fat and juicy okra for sale, so I snaffled as many as I could and this evening set to work creating a version of bhindi bhaji.  This is what I used:

okra (I couldn’t tell you the exact quantity that I used, but it was enough for three people to eat as a main dish)

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

2 teaspoons coriander

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon tumeric

2 teaspoons garam masala

1 teaspoon hot chilli powder (or more, depending on your taste)

standard-sized tin of chopped tomatoes (this is optional – it tastes really good without the tomatoes, but I added them to bulk up the dish into more of a meal)

salt (as little or as much as you like – I used around 11/2 teaspoons)

a squeeze of black pepper

olive oil for frying (as much as you want/ need)

So, peel and chop the onions and fry gently.  In the meantime, wash the okra and chop into bite-sized pieces.  When the onions have fried (and are soft), add all of the spices, stir and let cook for a few minutes.  Add the okra and stir every now and then.  If you wanted to use this as a side dish then cook out the okra from here (ultimately you want to cook them until they are soft, rather than crunchy/ firm).  As I wanted to have this as a main course I tipped in a tin of tomatoes.  I let the whole thing cook – probably for about 10-15 minutes over a medium heat and added a few more spices here and there, as was required.  After this time the tomato sauce should have reduced a little bit as well.  I ate this with cous cous – it was quicker than boiling up some rice and in any case, I personally think that cous cous goes better with okra than rice does.

On another note: I have always had a great appreciation of okra and it’s slimy insides, but I have since discovered that the humble okra has a great deal more to offer… health benefits include: stabilising the blood sugar, binds cholesterol, has laxative effects, help with IBS and is good for asthma and diabetes, amongst many more things.  Read this website I found.  Honestly – is there anything okra can’t do?!