• Payal Maharaj

Mum's Basic Okra Curry


I have been having quite a bit of fun writing out these recipes. It feels that I am writing out protocols but for food. Reminds me of my science days. I am also enjoying all the quality time I get to spend with my mum. It is great fun! Anyways, one of the other things I have discovered about myself while blogging out these recipes is that I enjoy taking food photos. I especially enjoy trying to re-imagine food presentations. So it has been fun plating all the foods that we have been cooking in interesting and atypical ways. Most of the food I have grown up eating has always been served family-style. As in, big bowls of curries and platters of food served at the table for everyone to eat. That is relatively straightforward to plate and photograph. It is more challenging to plate our food in ways that people are not used to. My parents chuckle at all my attempts to re-imagine our food and present it in more "elevated" ways. But I still carry on. I feel that our food is good enough to stand up there with best and trendy foods. That it has a place in the global food scene.

Some of my feelings about this may stem from some of my first experiences in this country. When I first moved here to the US, I would try and share the food my mum packed for me with my college peers. They would not want to try my food and some insensitive remarks were made. I remember someone trying to sniff the sweets I was trying to share. I was very offended. In my culture we share food. Nobody sits there with their own food and doesn't attempt to share it with the person sitting next to them. Even if it may be a random person. So I was offended maybe even embarrassed of my food. I learned over time to not offer my food to people. And learned to field comments about my food that may have come from a place of curiosity but came off as incredibly rude, insensitive and extremely insulting. I would like to think that people have become more woke since then but more work still has to be done in that regard. I think I also got quite tired of explaining that we don’t cook or eat tikka masalas, naans or biryanis on a daily basis. I could go on and on about the reasons behind this blog but I think I will wrap it up for now and get to the recipe already.

Today's recipe is for okra (bhindi) curry. In this recipe we used fresh okra but you can use frozen cut okra that is readily available in most grocery stores. With the fresh bhindi, make sure to wash and dry thoroughly. Then remove the hard tops and bottom tips of each okra before slicing the remaining okra into half inch slices. The rest of the steps are similar to all the other vegetarian curry recipes that I have posted so far. Basically, onions, garlic, ginger, spices have to be briefly cooked in oil before adding the okra and salt. Allow some browning to occur before adding water. Turn the heat down to low and let the okra cook down and soften. The cooked okra pieces should be completely cooked with the edges slightly falling apart which should take about 20 more minutes. At this point, you can turn the heat back up and allow for more browning but this is not necessary.

Cooked okra can be enjoyed with freshly made rotis or with dhal-stuffed rotis or over rice and dhal with some Indian style pickles and chutneys! Give this a try today and let me know what you think in the comments section below!

As I mentioned above, I experimented with different plating techniques for this recipe. So I am posting pictures of all them. Would love to know your favorite photo in the comments section below!


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RECIPE:

Prep time 30 minutes (includes time to cut okra)

Cook time 30 minutes

Ingredients:

2 lbs fresh okra sliced

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp mustard seeds

1/4 tsp cumin seeds

Handful of curry leaves (optional)

2 Thai chilies (optional)

1/2 cup diced onions

1 tbsp crushed garlic

1/2 tbsp crushed ginger

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garam masala

Salt to taste

3/4 cup water

Method:

  1. Wash, dry and cut okra into 1/2 inch slices.

  2. On medium heat, add mustard and cumin seeds. As they sizzle, add onions, ginger, garlic, chilis and curry leaves. Cook until aromatic. About 1-2 minutes. Add turmeric and garam masala. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

  3. Add okra. Stir. Add salt. Stir.

  4. Cook until some browning occurs.

  5. Add water.

  6. Turn heat to low and cook until okra softens. This will take about 20 minutes.

  7. Turn off heat. Enjoy hot with some fresh rotis or with dhal-stuffed rotis or with some rice and dhal!

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