Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Okra, Bhindi, Lady's finger...few minimalist recipes...

Okra is a versatile vegetable if you like it. If you don't, it is just a slimy green thing.

Many people I have heard do not like Okra just because it is slimy. Would you believe me it can be made in such ways that you wont even notice any slime? That too in a steamed okra.

Yes, you heard it right. Steamed Okra gave me a shocker as well when I heard it for the first time from a Bong friend. But as she described it, I knew it was something I would love. Subtle flavors of Okra enhanced with sharp mustard oil. Seasoned just with salt and a little mustard oil is the original Bong version.

Soon I started making a few variations of the steamed Okra as the name steamed Okra/Bhindi was not going well with the loved ones. You know what I mean.

Recently when Varsha Tiwary wanted some minimalist recipes with Okra, I suggested this steamed version. She was flabbergasted to hear the name. I promised her the recipes and here these are.

Steamed Okra ...

Normally in bengali homes, a plateful of okra is placed over cooking rice, covered with the lid of the bigger pot. Rice is cooked in huge pots in Bengali homes and they prefer to steam some of their vegetables along with it. They call it Sheddho.  I love all those steamed mashed vegetables. You can always season them to your own choice. Something I do myself. Not a purist that way.

This is how I steam my Okra...all arranged in a flat pan in single layer, sprinkled with water and salt, covered with a dome shaped lid. The okra are all slit lengthwise, keeping the stalk intact.

Then steaming for about 5 minutes on medium flame and the okra is all medium soft, do not let it get mushy. Actually it wont as you have just sprinkled water over it. If you cook for longer, it would get dry and dehydrated. So check the okra, it should look just done and a little softer.

Arrange them in  a serving plate, drizzle mustard oil over it.

Extra virgin Olive oil if you do not like Mustard oil and your steamed okra is done. 

I like a spoonful of English mustard over it and a few slices of raw onion as an accompaniment with it. If not English mustard, you can have some green pepper sauce or pickled green chillies over it. Or just go with your instinct for the day and add just anything that suits your mood....

Serve it as a side dish with chapatis and daal or rice and daal. It serves the purpose of a salad more than a subzi. I know you would make it quite often.

Those stalks are not edible, you just have to hold the okra by the stalk, eat the Okra and discard the stalk.

Now, if you are not comfortable with steamed Okra (the idea of steaming them I mean), you can stir fry them with the same ingredients.

Quick stir fried Okra...

Just remove the stalk, slit them lengthwise and separate the two halves. Toss with a drizzle of mustard oil and salt n pepper to taste for a couple of minutes on high flame, and then cover the pan and cook for another minute.

Empty in a serving plate and serve with or without a dollop of English mustard sauce over it.

I love it. I can actually have it like a standalone meal. This makes a nice dry-ish stir fry and can be packed in lunch boxes if you carry to your office. This stir fry remains moist and nice even when cold.

 Now there is another stir fry with the same cut of the vegetable. Minimalist ways I told you.

Schezuan peppercorn Okra stir fry....

Here I just heat some Sesame oil  in a pan and keep slitting the Okra and tossing in the pan. Tossing the contents of the pan on heat a few times. Sprinkled with salt to taste, a little red chilly powder, a little Schezuan pepper powder and a light sprinkling of Besan (Chickpea flour).

This Chickepea flour is dusted only if the Okra is not patted dry after washing them. A trick to prevent it from getting soggy and slimy in the pan. 

I have added a little Anaardaana (tart Pomegranate seeds powder) powder to this stir fry as well and it was outstanding in it's taste. You can always substitute it with Amchoor (dry mango powder) or even some lemon juice if there is Besan going in it.

 These steamed preparations and the stir fried Okra too, take just under ten minutes to cook. Ready as a side dish in a jiffy. Minimal chopping and minimal spicing if you wish.

What other vegetables you would like to cook as quickly?

 May be I have a recipe and share it. Let me know and stay tuned....


  1. wow luv the fresh takes on okra recipes... how abt eggplant?

    1. Thanks R. I have written a similar post with roasted eggplants in the past. Please go through that if you wish.

  2. Ok I'm loving this. The family {read Mr Man} is not exactly loving bhindi at the moment {what is it about men and meat???}. This could be a turning point. I love the steaming and the variety of flavour explosions you offer Sangeeta! WOW!

    1. Thank you Deeba. In my experience, simpler minimalist recipes are loved by most of the people. Do let me know if you all like it.

  3. beyond awesome !!!you know how to make anything look like gourmet fare. I will give it a go and report the results.
    Thanks : I need more recipes like this :

    1. :-)

      You'd definitely get more recipes :-)

  4. what other veggies ? sir jee all and every veggie :)
    is this sheddho same as Bihari chokha ??

    1. I like green beans steamed and seasoned the same way. I love steaming and mashing all the evgetables with different seasonings. Shall post more recipes.
      And yes, Sheddho is Bihari Choka, the boiled variety. The roasted variety is called Pora or Poda in Bengali :-)

      There is so much variety in our regional cuisine :-)

  5. A very simple and nice curry.

  6. steaming bhindi very new to me. The simple stir fry with besan-amchur is a family fav.