I was a bit of a picky eater as a child (OK, maybe until I was into my 20s), so this dish would have been disqualified for two reasons; “Indian-style? I don’t like the sound of that…and okra? Isn’t that the weird vegetable that’s got sticky goop inside? No thanks!” Thankfully, I’ve grown up a bit and come to love both Indian food and okra.
I ate okra a few years ago for the first time fried at a Southern-style barbecue restaurant. I got hooked and discovered it’s just as delicious when not deep-fried! I love the texture of it when cooked—just the right level of firmness without turning into mush and without staying super-crunchy. In any case, I’ve been converted and okra goes really well in this farmers market-friendly recipe I’ve adapted from Food & Wine (if your farmers market doesn’t carry okra or it’s off-season, I’ve made this with frozen okra and it’s still very tasty).
Indian-Style Okra & Tomatillos
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup coarsely chopped onion
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
¾ pound okra, sliced into ½-inch thick coins
1 pound tomatillos—husked, rinsed off, each one chopped into 4-5 pieces
2 large plum tomatoes, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (or leave seeds in for more heat)
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
¼ cup water
½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the onion and turmeric and cook until beginning to soften, 4-5 minutes.
2. Increase heat a bit to medium-high, then add the tomatillos and okra. Stir, until browned and beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the salt, ginger, jalapeño, tomatoes, and water, and simmer over low heat until the okra is tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the cilantro and serve.
“Fresh Okra, Nokia N72” photo courtesy of flickr user Prato9x through use of Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic.