Okra aka. lady’s finger. Do you like it or hate it? Hubby wouldn’t even look at it. My encounter with the strange vegetable was in Turkey and I’d had some dishes with it but had never been so keen till I listened to the podcast, Leah Chase: The cook who changed America.
Though I’ve never had the Gumbo stew, I can imagine what it’s like and it sounds delicious. Okra, originated in Ethiopia, is found in many dishes in south east countries and many with seafood as in this.
There’s a plenty of Indian okra dishes, too, including this one, which looks yummy and healthy.
Here in Turkey, it’s called ‘bamya‘, and usually cooked with tomato based stew with or without meat and is, as usual, overcooked. So unless you trick yourself to like it, many people get put off by the slimy texture. The longer it’s cooked, the slimier it gets.
So it’s useful in stews and soups as a thickener and I sneaked some chopped okro(plural) into baked beans for English breakfast one morning. And guess what? It went unsuspected by the dubious palate of hubby’s. The point learned here is that you cut up okra small rather than using it whole or half so that the slimy liquid will be released and mixed into the broth.
You can see dried okra hanging along with dried peppers, eggplants, etc. in spice shops. I might be buying them this winter to make some stews!
But while it’s in season, I’ll share two easy recipes you can use to enjoy the healthy vegetable and get to know it or even get to love it. The cooking tip is to wash and dry them well before cooking. Please excuse the photos! Until I get back my camera, I can’t take nice photos 😦
Parmesan Crusted Okra with Spicy Aioli
I bet everyone will love this and it’s so easy to make. All you need is 1 egg, grated Parmesan cheese, cornmeal, rice flour(optional), and olive oil, garlic and chili powder for aioli.
I cut them in two shapes and cubes worked better. Just dip them in an whisked egg – you can mix it with buttermilk or yogurt if you like – and roll them in the Parmesan mixture, and grill at 220’C for 10 mins till browned and turn them over and grill for 5 mins. That’s it!
This will make a great party snack and I couldn’t stop eating them! You can season the crumb mix or egg wash with salt or dried herbs if you like.
Indian Okra Stir-Fry (Bhindi Masala)
Look at the busy fingers of hubby’s! He can’t say he hates okra any more! MIL recently came back from her two-week trip to India, and brought some spices.
You can make your own spice mix or use garam masala and add a bit of turmeric powder, chili powder and chaat masala if you have it. Once you toss it well with spices, add cornmeal and rice flour, which is to give crispiness while cooking.
Stir-fry it over high heat for 10-15 mins till browned and crisp, and enjoy it with cold beer!
Speaking of beer, if you don’t have a fear for deep frying, why not try ‘Beer Battered Fried Okra‘? And then, you can eat it as it is, or roll up some sushi, or season it with the above Indian spices, OR stuffed them and fry them if you can be bothered! Creativity has no limit…..