Okra Tomato Curry Recipe (Bhindi Masala)

Okra Tomato Curry Recipe (Bhindi Masala) Recipe

I used to eat okra just plain, cooked in boiling water for a few minutes, seasoned with salt and drizzled with a little sesame oil. When I first met Baji (my husband Lulu's grandma), she was surprised by how I prepared okra (it's called bhindi  in Urdu). She immediately showed me what she called sabji masala. Sabji means vegetables in Urdu, and for the longest time, I had no clue why Baji would always talk about sabji with me because I didn't understand the meaning of the word. The okra, once pre-cooked (Baji deep-fried them), are finished by simmering in a spiced tomato mixture.

Some people object to what they call the "sliminess" of okra. If you do, you need to deep fry them. That’s everyone’s favorite preparation, but it’s not the healthiest. Give both a try, and see which one you like.

Ingredients

Yields: 6 servings

2 pounds okra
3 tablespoons canola oil (or any neutral oil)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1-½ teaspoons ginger garlic paste (click on the link for the recipe)
3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
1 jalapeño pepper
juice of a lemon
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cilantro, for garnish


Directions

Prepping the jalapeño: Stem the jalapeño pepper. Using a paring knife, create a 2-inch incision in the side of the whole pepper.

Prepping the okra: Trim the stems of the okra but don't remove them completely; you don't want to pierce the vegetables. Wash them, remove as much water as possible and drizzle with half of the lemon juice. Set aside.

Prepping the tomato:

This step is optional but I find tomato skin unpleasant to chew. Here's a neat method to peel tomatoes. Make a small, shallow criss-cross cut at the bottom of the fresh tomatoes using a bread knife (I use a bread knife because the blade won't bruise the fruit). Fill a small saucepan with cold water and bring to a boil. Place the tomatoes in the water and wait for at least 30 seconds. Remove the tomatoes quickly (I use a large strainer or a slotted spoon), then transfer to an ice cold bath to stop the cooking process. The skin will come right off. Coarsely chop the flesh. Set aside.

Assembly time: 

In a saucepan, cook the okra in boiling water for about 4 minutes until they change color, then drain and pat dry on a paper towel. Cut each okra in thirds. Season with salt.

In a deep saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes  until the onions become translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and whole jalapeño pepper to the onions. Stir well. Add the tomatoes, garam masala, red chili powder, turmeric and a little water (about ½ cup). Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 8-10 minutes; add more water if necessary (up to 1 cup). Add the okra to the tomato masala sauce, drizzle with the rest of the lemon juice and cover with a lid and cook for about 5-8 minutes. Check the seasoning. Add more salt (if necessary) and black pepper.

Serve warm with roti (Indian flat bread).

Bon appétit!


Tips

I buy okra at the Indian market. Choose small, bright green okra. For optimum freshness, remove as much moisture as possible by wrapping them in kitchen towels while storing them in the refrigerator. Some people fry okra; for health reasons I prefer boiling the vegetables. You could also roast them to remove the sliminess as I mentionned above.

You can either make your own garam masala spice mix or buy it at any Indian store.

garam masal recipe

Don't add too much turmeric! I use it just as a natural food coloring.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on June 2, 2010.


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