How to cook okra: go small, don’t get them wet, and fry with tomatoes and spices

The resonant response that people feel at the mere mention of the word “okra” is the unique texture properties are retained in one’s mind, with the stick being the keyword.

The characteristic gloop that Okra produces is a result of the vegetable’s natural mucilage. It is activated when it is exposed to its inner bowels by slicing or extended cooking (like in stews). Its tendency to turn into slime in time is one of the reasons why people love certain dishes, like gumbo from the American South and West African stews, in which it serves as a thickener in the sauce.

However, if you’d like to lessen the mucilage, it’s much more simple than you imagine. Pick okras that are smaller and trim only the top of the stem to ensure the pods stay intact. This means that the mucilage that’s contained in the body doesn’t have an opportunity to become all gooey.

Consider Okra to be a mogwai from the Gremlins film. If you’d like it to remain cute, do not make it wet. Instead of washing, rub it with a damp cloth to get rid of dirt.

Fat is a great waterproof barrier. That’s the reason that frying okra initially – somewhat similar to searing meat for dishes or curry is a fantastic way to increase flavor and avoid slime. It’s not necessary to be strict about how long you fry them, as the Okra can be eaten completely raw. Finely slice, add salt, and serve with bonito to make a Japanese Okra salad. Blanch whole and mix with a Cantonese gravy made of soy sauce or an easy vinaigrette made of red wine for Brazilian quiabo salad.

Acid can also help to improve the taste of food; that’s why you’ll typically encounter Okra served with vinegar, lemon juice, or a tomato-based sauce like the one I’ve included in my recipe.

I find Okra unique because when you eat it, the slick texture feels much like gelatinous, slow-cooked cut meat. This makes it a great choice to batter and deep fry (so delicious!) and also for vegan and vegetarian curries such as this one, which is a great midweek-friendly version of an Indian masala called bhindi.

Autopilot okra curry

I’ve kept the spicing as easy as possible. A teaspoon each of your favorite garam masala and Indian curry powder. If you’d rather make up your spice mix, then go ahead.

I’ve picked tinned cherries because I love how they move in the sauce. However, other tomatoes that are tinned (whole chopped or peeled) are equally good. If you have tomatoes that are fresh and are awaiting use, you can make use of them instead. Four or five tomatoes (around 500g) roughly chopped can take 10 minutes or less to simmer.

In Australia, Okra remains the best it can be for a few months. However, this tomato gravy that autopilots is a great option for all sorts of vegetables, including green beans, blanched broccoli, or cauliflower.

Serves 4

3 tbsp neutral oil (I like grapeseed)
Small Okra 450g, wiped clean, and the tops cut
One big red onion, thinly sliced
1 2 tablespoons garam masala
1 Tbsp moderate Madras curry powder
1/8 TSP chili powder (or go higher if you want to)
One thumb’s worth of grated
3-4 cloves of garlic to mince
Two tins of cherry tomatoes (800g total)
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional, however, it can allow any tomato-based dish to make a sound)
One teaspoon salt
Basmati rice that has been steamed and Naan for serving

Minted yogurt
150g of natural Yoghurt
Two tablespoons freshly cut mint leaves, Finely sliced, and a few mint leaves for garnish.

A large, heavy-bottomed skillet at medium-high temperature. Add two tablespoons of oil and let it shine, and then fry the Okra until it is golden brown. Transfer to a bowl, and keep aside.

Pour the remaining oil into the pan, then add the chopped onion and allow it to begin to sizzle. Reduce the temperature, then cover the pan and cook for about six to eight minutes until the onions become soft and sparkling.

Add garam masala, curry powder,  chili powder, ginger, and garlic in the saucepan, stir, and simmer for about two minutes until the spices are unavoidably fragrant.

Incorporate the tomato sauce (pour some water into the nearly empty tins to pour out the juices from the rest of the tinned tomatoes into the skillet), sugar (if there is any), and salt. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, covered. Mix frequently and let the sauce become thicker and less.

While you’re at it, make the mint yogurt and mix the mint slices into the yogurt before putting it aside.

Once the sauce has been reduced to half, test for the seasoning. Incorporate the Okra you’ve reserved and let it simmer for about two or three minutes to warm the Okra. Then, introduce the new, delicious home. Serve it with rice, Naan, and mint yogurt.

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