I was at an Indian restaurant recently with my family and I ordered this superb dish of Bhindi Masala, which is an Indian style okra fried in a sea of spices, along with the usual curries and briyani rice. It tasted so yummy that my eight years old daughter ate almost half of the portion that is meant for three. So I thought I better learn how to cook this at home to satisfy everyone’s craving for this vegetarian dry curry dish. Armed with my fundamental knowledge of Indian cooking, I made my own version of Bhindi Masala – Okra cooked in spices – and I was fairly successful in my first attempt. I do not use any premixed spices as I usually prefer to manage the various proportions to my liking, and you may choose to add or reduce any spices that you may not like.

There are of course many variations of this popular Indian dish, but I am offering a simple and healthy version below that uses only natural ingredients, spices and condiments. This is a vegetarian dish so the ingredients are fairly straightforward, though it requires a variety of commonly available spices from your Asian grocer.

Some people may not like okra for its slimy or gooey mucilaginous interior, but okra is a relatively nutritious as it is well known for its high fiber, vitamin C and folate content. It is also believed that the soluble fiber of its mucilage helps to prevent diabetes and cholesterol-linked diseases.

 

Bhindi Masala (Indian Fried Okra in Spices)
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Bhindi Masala (Indian Style Fried Okra in Spices)

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 7 oz/200g okra, cut into 1-inch length
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 large red tomato, sliced
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 tsb vegetable cooking oil
  • A small handful of cilantro leaves (optional)

Method

  1. Heat up the frying pan with 1 tablespoonful of vegetable oil.
  2. When the oil becomes hot, add mustard seeds and fry for 1-2 minutes, gently stirring to prevent charring.
  3. Add onions to the pan and stir fry till soft.
  4. Add tomatoes and stir fry with the onions until these are thoroughly mixed, soft and mushy. Add some water to prevent the mixture from drying up.
  5. In a separate clean and dry bowl, mix the dry spices powder and salt together, and then pour this into the frying pan.
  6. Continue frying the mixture for a few more minutes for the spices to infuse well into the already well softened onions and tomatoes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  7. Heat up the frying pan with 1 tablespoonful of vegetable oil.
  8. Add the okra into the frying pan and stir fry for about 5-8 minutes, depending on how soft you like your okra.
  9. Pour the spicy onion and tomatoes paste into the pan of okra, and mix thoroughly. Add a bit of water if required.
  10. Remove pan from heat, sprinkle with cilantro leaves and serve with rice, naan or chapati and your main dish.