18 August 2016
This week, Knidos Cookery Club is cooking with okra, another vegetable that arouses strong emotions in the love it or hate it camps.
Many are put off this green pod, also known as lady’s fingers, for its tendency to taste a bit slimy at times. This sliminess can be avoided by making sure that after washing, the pods are thoroughly dried before being cooked. Stir frying can also help retain okra’s natural crunchiness.
The origins of okra are unclear – South Asia, West Africa and Ethiopia all make claims to be the home of this vegetable. Okra was brought to Turkey by Arab merchants and is known by its Arabic name, bamya. It’s often cooked with olive oil and tomatoes and served as a side dish in Turkey.
Our favourite recipe for okra is to prepare it Indian-style, stir fried with spices to make a dry bhindi bhaji, which works as a standalone dish or can be accompanied with a lentil dhal and rice combo.
Ingredients (serves 3-4)
500 g okra washed and dried
250 g tomatoes
One medium-sized onion
One clove of garlic
1 cm fresh ginger
One teaspoon mustard seeds
One teaspoon cumin
One teaspoon dried coriander
One teaspoon cinnamon
One teaspoon turmeric
One teaspoon chili flakes
50 ml olive oil
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and tip in the mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, add the diced onion and garlic and cook for five minutes or so until just starting to brown. Add the spices (ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric and chili flakes) and stir well.
Throw the tomatoes into the spicy onion mix and cook for another five minutes or so until the tomatoes begin to break up. Now add the okra and stir fry for ten minutes, making sure the okra are well-coated with the curry sauce.
Serve immediately with a lentil dhal and basmati rice or chapatis, or both if you’re feeling famished.