Bhindi Masala with Tomato Tarka (Stir-Fried Okra with Tomatoes and Spices)

Niven Patel, F&W’s Best New Chef HTML0, puts a spicy-jammy spin on the popular North Indian dish bhindi masala, using spiced tomatoes. Patel’s simmered tomato dish pairs well with stir-fried okra when he adds a floral, earthy, and slightly spicy note by frying spices (a technique known as Tarka or Tadka).

Indian cuisine is a staple of fenugreek, a slightly bitter and sweet herb. Black mustard seeds are spicy and hot. Deep red Kashmiri chile, native to Kashmir in India, adds sweetness and mild heat to the dish.

Food & Wine Test Kitchen Notes

Air-dry the okra before stirring-frying to ensure that each piece has a crisp exterior. Spices can be found in most Indian supermarkets or online at Kalustyan’s. You can store the tomato Tarka in a refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days.


Bhindi Masala

  • 1 pound fresh okra
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek seeds (see Note)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
  • Two tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • One teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • One teaspoon of ground cumin
  • One teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • One teaspoon finely chopped serrano chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon chickpea flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

Tomato Tarka

  • Four small tomatoes, stemmed, cored, and chopped (about 3 cups)
  • One tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • One teaspoon of black mustard seeds (see Note)
  • One teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • One teaspoon Kashmiri chile powder (see Note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Additional ingredient

  • Warm roti or naan, for serving


To make bhindi masala: Dry the okra

  1. Slice okra into 1-inch-long pieces and place in a single row on a baking tray. Allow to stand at room temperature, uncovered, until the cut side feels dry, about 1 to 2 hours.

How to Make Tomato Tarka

  1. In a food processing machine, pulse tomatoes until they are mostly smooth. This should take 8-10 pulses. Oil in a medium pan is heated on medium-low for 2 minutes. Add mustard seeds and cook them, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 mins. Stir in the sugar, chile, coriander, and turmeric; add the processed tomatoes. Stir occasionally as you bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens. Cover and remove heat. Set aside.

Make the bhindi Masala

  1. In a large pan, heat two tablespoons of oil on medium. Fenugreek, stir constantly until fragrant and sizzling (about 10 seconds). Add the dried okra and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until it is tender, charred, and soft. Reduce heat. Stir in the peanuts, cilantro, and other ingredients, including salt, sugar, cumin, garlic serrano, chickpea, coriander turmeric, chickpea, flour, coriander, and the remaining two teaspoons of oil. Stirring often, cook until peanuts are fragrant and lightly toasted (about 2 minutes). Add salt to your taste. Remove from heat.
  2. Heat tomato Tarka on medium-low, stirring frequently, until it is warm. This should take 2 to 4 minutes. Spread tomato tarka on a large plate. Add bhindi masala and garnish with extra peanuts and cilantro. Serve with warm roti, naan, or roti.

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