Friday, September 19, 2014

crisp baked okra or kurkuri bhindi, the versatile and tangy okra chips


Okra can be a tricky vegetable to handle if you are cooking it for the first time. The slime inside the pods of okra (bhindi) can make it into a gloopy mass of green if cooked wrongly. But the mucilage found in okra is highly recommended if you want to tone up the gut and cleanse it naturally. Along with the mucilage, the fiber content in okra is a good prebiotic.


But what to do to not make okra slimy while cooking?

The first thing that everyone recommends is to pat dry the okra after rinsing well, and rinse it before chopping them. Once the surface is dry, chop them as required and cook uncovered, do not stir too much while making stir fried okra. Once you take these precautions, the okra wont get slimy even if you add water to make a gravy with okra. 

Believe me, this yogurt based gravy with okra is not slimy at all. But if you don't feel confident to cook okra with gravy, cook dry stir fries with it. We love a dry okra with mustrad seasoning, Okra and baby onions stir fry and a very simple ghee fried peppery okra. Apart from these I love steaming or lightly stir frying whole okra with minimal spices like these mustard okra and schezuan pepper okra.

One precaution while buying okra is to choose the tender pods only. The mature pods are too fibrous and even the seeds get too hard to chew.

This recipe of baked okra chips will be suitable for appetisers along with a green chutney or a cheese or mayo dip but you would love it with a simple Indian daal and rice meal or with a simple khichdi.

ingredients
(for 2-4 servings depending on how it is served)
fresh okra pods 250 gm
besan or chickpea flour 2 tbsp
rice flour 1 tbsp
ajwain seeds 1 tsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
red chilly powder 1 tsp
amchoor powder 1 tsp or a bit more to make it more tangy
salt to taste
mustard or olive oil 1 tbsp

procedure

Remove the stalk and slit the okra pods lengthwise into 4 pieces.


Sprinkle all the dry powders and drizzle the oil over the sliced okra.


And massage everything well into the okra slices. Do not worry if the powders don't stick to the okra as it will eventually season the okra well and some bits of the seasoning stuck to okra will make it nice.

spread this mixture over a baking tray lined with foil or silpat.

 
And bake at 160 C for about 30 minutes. Take out the tray, mix well and bake again at 180C for 10 minutes or till the okra gets crisp.

Serve hot or at room temperature. It tastes great with a nice hung curd dip, mayo dip or a cheesy dip with a sprinkling of mustard.


And you know it makes a very good accompaniment to khichdi meals too. I love khichdis and I love having something crisp and tangy with my multi grain khichdi. Some raita with my khichdi and okra crisps would be even more fun. You could call it kurkuri bhindi if you wish. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

a warm Oriental salad with lotus stem | lotus stem stir fry salad with tamarind chilly sauce


Lotus stem warm salad is something I keep stirring up quite often. I find salads made with lotus stem slices quite filling and satiating apart from being utterly delicious. Yes I have tried simple stir fried lotus stem with salt and pepper too and have found it great for my taste. This lotus stem and chicken sausage stir fry salad with soy honey glaze is a hot favourite and a lotus stem stir fry with sweet and sour sauce and another lotus stem stir fry with spring onions is a regular too.

Apart from being an extremely healthy vegetable, lotus stem is incredibly tasty too. One can cook them with s spicy Indian curry, an Oriental stir fry or a Kashmiri style curry with or without knol khol or turnips added. If you have been reading my blogs for some time you would know that I stock lotus stems always in my fridge.


Many people don't buy lotus stem as they find it difficult to clean it. Finding good quality lotus stem is not tough if you know how to spot the freshest ones. Look for the brightest looking sticks in this case.

Try and find fresh unblemished Lotus stem preferably locally grown as that ensures the freshness. The freshly cut end of a lotus stem should ooze a little milky exudation and should be creamy white in colour. Do not buy if the pores look dirty as it will be a big hassle to clean it properly.


You need to discard the brown ends and peel the skin using a potato peeler. Take care not to peel too hard as half the lotus stem will be wasted that way.

ingredients

lotus stem sliced in half moons or as convenient 2 cups
red onion sliced 1/2 cup
chopped garlic 1 tsp
ginger julienne 1 tbsp
dry red chillies broken 2-3 or to taste
star anise petals broken 1 tsp
tamarind pulp 1 tbsp (freshly made, 1 tsp if using thick ready made paste)
soy sauce 1 tbsp
grated jaggery 1 tsp
black pepper powder (optional)
sesame oil 2 tsp or 1 tbsp

preparation

Heat the oil and tip in the star anise petals, garlic and broken red chillies. Let them sizzle first and then add the sliced lotus stems. Stir fry on medium heat for about 5 minutes and then add salt to taste. Mix well.

Add the sliced onions and ginger julienne. Mix well and cook for a couple of minutes.

Mix the tamarind pulp with soy sauce, grated jaggery and black pepper powder (if using) and pour into the pan. Mix well and let the lotus stem slices coat well.


Serve warm or at room temperature. This is something we can't take our hands off, it is so addictive you would finish the plate as it is. Add a few roasted peanuts and it would make a complete meal. We had it as a starter the other day followed by a nice grilled fish.

This warm salad with lotus stem could be a great accompaniment to any noodle or rice meal that you plan for an oriental dinner.

One of those dull looking but yummy dishes that you keep repeating for the ease of cooking and the taste.