It was pointed out to me that, despite the number of times our household has eaten Indian-spiced okra in the last year, I have so far failed to do a post on it. Well, let’s just fix that, shall we?
I was not an okra eater, growing up. It’s a hard vegetable to grow in the Pacific Northwest, even east of the mountains – it just needs too long of a growing season – so it’s not very common as a fresh vegetable in the stores. I was fed a bowl of okra gumbo in New Orleans when I was nine years old, and thought it was the nastiest, slimiest thing I had ever eaten. I didn’t try it again for years.
I believe it was my father who first found a recipe for spiced, pan-fried okra in a Julie Sahni cookbook and fed it to us. We fussed and made dubious comments, but then ate some…and kept on eating, because this is incredible, unexpectedly delicious stuff! Instead of being slimy and glutinous, the okra cooks dry and becomes a little crisp, a little tender, delicately flavored and with a delightful pop from the seeds. Cooking it Indian style often means adding a dry spice mixture of cumin, coriander, and cayenne, and sometimes rings of green chile pepper, which go really nicely with the okra’s flavor. We’ve tried several different recipes, and it’s delicious no matter what we do. The two of us can finish off a pound of frozen chopped okra fairly quickly this way. Who knew? Now I’m an okra fiend.
Honestly, even if you think you hate okra, try this. Really. You might be surprised.