Monday, January 14, 2013

Bhindi sabzi (Bhinda nu shaak or Indian spiced okra)

One of my absolute favorite Indian dishes is bhinda nu shaak, or okra cooked with Indian spices, tomato, and ginger.  I would always ask my mom to make okra for me when I would go home form college.  In fact, this okra sabzi and tomato rice is the very first meal I cooked for the love of my life! He said it was amazing, but he always says that about my cooking, even when I know a dish is an epic fail.

Many people tell me that they have an aversion to okra due to its slimy texture. If you are one of those people, I'll let you in on a little secret:  okra becomes sticky and stringy when wet.  So when you wash okra, make sure it is thoroughly dry before slicing.

Okra reduces quite a bit once cooked, about 1/3 of the original amount, so keep that in mind when planning a meal.

I prefer a dry version of the dish as opposed to a gravy, so I like to cook the onion, ginger, tomato mixture until it is dry before adding the okra. If you prefer a wetter sabzi with more gravy, add the tomatoes after the okra has cooked for a few minutes.

Serve hot with roti and yogurt.

Bhindi sabzi (Bhinda nu shaak or Indian spiced okra)
1lb okra, washed, thoroughly dried, ends removed, sliced into 1/4" rounds
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 onion, diced
1/2" ginger, minced
1 green chile, minced
2 plum tomatoes, finely diced
1/2 to 1 tsp dried mango powder, amchur or fresh lemon juice to taste

optional: 1/2 tsp garam masala

Heat a large skillet over moderately high heat for 2 minutes. Add oil, and once shimmery, add cumin seeds. Let sizzle, then add onion, cooking until translucent about 5-7 minutes. Do not brown.  Add ginger and garlic, cooking another 2 minutes.  Find a spot of oil to add turmeric, red cayenne pepper, ground cumin, and ground coriander, cook another minute. Add tomatoes, stir to coat well.  Lower heat to  medium and continue to cook until tomatoes are dry and a dry mixture forms. Add okra, season with salt, and stir to coat well, cooking for 3 minutes. Cover and continue to cook for 12-15 minutes until okra is tender. Remove lid, increase heat to high, and cook off any remaining liquid. Season with dried mango powder or fresh lemon juice. Taste and adjust salt as needed.  Serve hot with roti and yogurt.

Optional: can finish with 1/2 tsp of garam masala if desired.

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