One of my favorite dishes from New Orleans is gumbo, it's a hearty dish with a lot of spice and flavor and it has okra. Another Southern dish, that is close to my heart is fried okra, that's pure crispy goodness. Okra is popular in Indian food too and we prepare it in several different ways and I'm sharing one of my favorite ways to eat this vegetable.
If there ever was a vegetable known for its sliminess, it would have to be okra (lady-fingers). The slimy texture doesn't become an issue in soups, stew or curries but when stir-fried or cooked dry it can be a little unpleasant to some.
There are a few tricks to avoid the slime when cooking okra dry and using the slime to your advantage. This is what I do.
- Wash and rinse the uncut okra under running cold tap water and drain the excess water.
- Place the okra on a dry clean kitchen towel and dry completely before cutting through them.
- Cut the okra with a dry knife on a dry cutting board. Basically keep the water away, it activates the production of the slime.
- Avoid adding water to the okra while it's cooking.
This is how we ate okra often as kids. The okra is lightly spiced and has a little chili for heat. There's a generous helping of red onions, freshly ground fenugreek seeds, a little garlic and a splash of fresh lemon juice to brighten up the flavors.
okra with lemon and onions
yields: 2-4 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil/ghee
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 cup red onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (you can use less if you like it less hot, I used Kashmiri chili powder)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek powder
1 lb medium-sized okra, cut lengthwise
1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped for garnish
1. In a large wok with a lid, heat the oil on a medium-high flame. When the oil is hot add the mustard seeds and allow them to cook for about 20 seconds until they begin to sputter.
2. Immediately add the onions and cook the onions with occasional stirring for about 4-5 minutes or until they turn golden brown.
2. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chili, turmeric, and fenugreek, cook for another 30 seconds. Add the okra, followed by the salt. Stir to coat the okra and then cover with a lid. Cook until the okra is tender, this will take about 8-10 minutes. As soon as the okra is tender, cut and squeeze the lemon juice over the okra. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rice or Indian flat breads such as roti or naan.