A very happy new year to all of you folks!. Finally I am done with all the sweets and the desserts! How about we go back to some simple, comfort foods for the next whole month? Sounds great doesn’t it? And this bhindi coconut curry with some plain rice is just what I need.! 🙂
I had never heard of the word ‘Okra’ until I came to the US. In India we referred to it (lovingly I guess!) as ‘lady’s finger’. Many folks dislike okra because of the sticky, slimy feel. But if cooked properly, it can be really delicious. I love to make it as a side sautéed with Indian spices and or cooked (pan fried) till crispy on the outside. Another favorite of mine is ‘Vendakka curry’ where it is sautéed with onions, tomatoes and spices and cooked in coconut milk. Simple, unassuming dish yet with so much flavor and the texture of the bhindi – slightly crisp in the coconut milk curry makes it just perfect. Yum!
By the way okra is really packed with a lot of vitamins and nutrients – Vitamin C and folate especially and has a high fiber content and hence recommended for those suffering from constipation. Another thing to remember when you pick fresh okra from the produce section is to make sure they are tender – you can check for that by snapping the tips to see if they break off. if they don’t then it means they are overripe and will have lot of tough fibers and therefore those are not great for cooking.
Here is the recipe which I learnt from my dad. Fennel is an important ingredient in this recipe and gives it its unique flavor.
Step wise pictures:
- 18-20 pieces of fresh tender bhindi (okra), slit length wise (or fresh frozen okra - see note below)
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp fennel powder (freshly ground)
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- ½ of med onion, sliced thinly
- ½ tsp grated ginger
- 2 green chillies, slit length wise (optional)
- 4-5 fresh curry leaves
- 2 tbsp water
- 1½ cups thick coconut milk (fresh* or canned)
- 1 small tomato, cut into small cubes
- 1 cup grated coconut (fresh or frozen that has been thawed)
- 2 cups warm water (divided)
- Slit the bhindi (okra) length wise and dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. In a medium size bowl, add the red chili, turmeric,coriander,fennel and salt. Mix the okra pieces in it gently to uniformly coat them with the spices. Keep aside.
- Take a deep wide frying pan or any flat bottomed pot and heat the coconut oil in it. When hot, turn heat to low and add the mustard seeds. When they start spluttering, add the fennel seeds. Wait for about 30 seconds and then add the sliced onions, ginger, green chillies (if adding) and curry leaves. Saute on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes and then add the marinated okra pieces too and continue sautéing on medium heat for another 2-3 minutes. (Make sure you gently sauté and take care not to mush up the okra pieces). Then turn heat to low and cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes or so until the okra pieces are cooked.
- Now add the coconut milk and the tomato pieces and again cover and cook for about 4 minutes or so until the tomato pieces are soft/cooked. Turn heat off. Serve with cooked plain white rice or with rotis.
- Blend the grated coconut with 1 cup warm water in a blender (large size jar) for about 1 minute and strain the whole mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth into another large bowl. Take the meat back from the strainer and add to the blender with the rest of the warm water and blend again. Strain once again thru strainer into the bowl with the coconut milk. You will get about 2½ cups of coconut milk. Discard the coconut meat.
Use freshly ground fennel for maximum flavor