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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Simple Bhindi Masala (Bhindi ki sabji)

Okra is known in many English-speaking countries as lady's fingers or gumbo) is a flowering plant in the mallow family. It is valued for its edible green seed pods. Originating in Africa, the plant is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world.

The name "okra", most often used in the United States and the Philippines, is of West African origin and is cognate with "ọ́kụ̀rụ̀" in Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria. Okra is often known as "Lady's Fingers" outside of the United States.

In various Bantu languages, okra is called "kingombo" or a variant thereof, and this is the origin of its name in Portuguese ("quiabo"), Spanish, Dutch and French, and also of the name "gumbo", used in parts of the United States and English-speaking Caribbean for either the vegetable, or a stew based on it. In the United Kingdom it is often called as "bhindi", from its Hindi name "bhindi" or "bhendi".

The products of the plant are mucilaginous, resulting in the characteristic "goo" or slime when the seed pods are cooked; the mucilage contains a usable form of soluble fiber. While many people enjoy okra cooked this way, others prefer to minimize sliminess; keeping the pods intact and cooking quickly help to achieve this.

To avoid sliminess, okra pods are often briefly stir-fried, or cooked with acidic ingredients such as citrus, tomatoes, or vinegar. A few drops of lemon juice will usually suffice. Alternatively the pods can be sliced thinly and cooked for a long time, so that the mucilage dissolves, as in gumbo.

When you make Okra, keep in mind that the yield of prepared dish is much less than amount of fresh okra that you start with. There are so many different Indian ways you can make Okra: Bhindi yogurt curry, Bhindi ka salan, Stuffed Bhindi/okra, Bhindi Moorcorrum, etc etc... However, this is the most simplest way to make it quickly and my favorite of all.

This also gives me nostalgic feeling and reminds me of my childhood (when I was 5 years old) this used to be my favorite vegetable and I would eat 4-5 chapaties when my mom would make this sabji.

This recipe is pretty much how my mom used to make bhindi, except she did not put onions, ginger and tomatoes in it.. so you can make this without these ingredients too.

This recipe yields 6 servings.


2 pounds Okra
2 small onions finely chopped
1" piece of ginger
1 jalapeno pepper chopped
2 small tomatoes chopped
Juice from 1 fresh lime
1/4 cup of oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
1/8 teaspoon of asfetida
1.5 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 table spoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon mango powder
1 teaspoon garam masala or all spice


* Wash and completely dry the okra pods, if any moisture remains on the pods, it will be difficult to minimize the sliminess, which turns off some people from eating this wonderful vegetable.

* Slice the okra in small rounds, discarding the caps and tails of the pods.

* Heat oil in a heavy vessel.

* When oil is hot add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and fenugreek seeds.

* When these seeds crackle and turn light brown, add asafetida and add chopped onions and ginger.

* Saute these on medium heat till light brown.

* Add chopped tomatoes and chopped jalapenos, cook for 1-2 min.

* Add Okra, stir in salt and lime juice (to burn off the sliminess)

* Stir and cook on medium heat until all the stickiness is dissolved and okra slices become soft but not mushy.

* DO NOT PANIC if initially you see it become very gooey and slimy. Keep cooking it on medium heat with occasional stir till all the goo is burned off.

* Stir in all the dry spices and take it off the stove.

* Empty in microwave safe dish. If the okra are still not tender and still slimy, you may cook them in microwave for about 3-4 min uncovered. (make sure they don't become too dry)

* Garnish with chopped cilantro.

* Serve hot with chapati, naan or pita bread.

Description of Okra source:

Photographs vy Surekha
Recipe modified by Surekha from an original recipe by her dearest mom Mrs. Kasturben.

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