Okra & potatoes…as far as I have read, every single aloo bhindi bhujiya recipe mentions it being an ultimate childhood favorite. This seems very interesting to me, a complete ignoramus of this little green vegetable. Such a simple side dish is quite popular for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even lunchboxes! And its versatility allows it to be a great companion to almost anything else!
Many people are skeptical about okra, as the texture can be very unpleasant – I quickly learned this when trying it for the first time. The main reason NOT to like it is because it might get slimy or sticky when cooking. This was quite the surprise for me! It reminded me a lot of aloe vera. This stir fry preparation, however, brings out the best of the vegetable in a rather dry presentation (as opposed to the usual saucy & savoury dishes in Indian cuisine).
To avoid the unpleasant stickiness, there are a few tricks that one should know about. First of all, wash the okra in running water and then wipe them dry with a kitchen towel. Always look for tender & small okra, as they tend to cook quicker than larger ones. Adding lemon juice or vinegar also helps! When cooking, add the salt after the okra is half-cooked as this prevents water from oozing out and making them stickier. The knife also tends to get uncomfortably sticky when chopping them, so try to keep it clean with paper towels. And another important trick is not to cover the lid of the pan while cooking.
Okra, or ladies’ fingers or ochro, are edible green seed pods. Geographically, it’s common in the cuisines of West Africa, Ethiopia, and South Asia. The products of the plant are mucilaginous, resulting in the characteristic ‘goo’ or slime when the seed pods are cooked. This mucilage contains soluble fiber; in fact, raw okra is 90% water, 2& protein, 7% carbohydrates and negligible in fat. Pods are cooked, pickled, eaten raw, or included in salads. Okra has many health benefits and is advisable to add the vegetable to your routine diet. It’s great for losing weight & preventing diabetes, and also helps a ton with regulating bowel movements!
For the Aloo Bhindi
- 300g of okra, washed & cut into 1cm slices
- 8 new potatoes, boiled & cut into quarters
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon of minced ginger
- 3 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 teaspoon of chili powder
- 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- Salt, to taste
- 2 tablespoons of coriander leaves, chopped
To begin. heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan (or wok) and add the ground cumin. Sauté for 1 minute until sizzling, then add the onions and cook until golden brown. Add the ginger and stir for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes and mix well. Add the chili powder, ground coriander, turmeric powder, & salt to taste. Add 50ml of water, mix well and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the okra & the potatoes, and stir well – gently. Add another 50ml of water and cook until okra is cooked through. This should take all of 5 minutes! To finish the dish, sprinkle in the chopped coriander and check the seasoning. Adjust if required and serve with whatever you hungry heart desires: roti, rice, or dal work perfectly!
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