Okra - This is Your Last Chance

This is it. The final Okra recipe to make any non-believer change his mind and follow us to the dark (or should that read ‘mucilaginous’?) side.
You may remember that we have tried out hardest to show glorious Okra in it’s most favourable light: homestyle, simmered with tomatoes, traditional-style in gumbo and given the catfish treatment by coating them in Fish-Fri and then plunging them in bubbling hot oil to produce a fun alternative to popcorn or canap├ęs.
I had thought I had seen it all. In what other ways could Okra possibly be served that get the taste buds tingling with excitement just to look at it?
Enter cooking hero (at least to Shaun and myself), Tamasin Day-Lewis. With the possible exception of the Sologa (I spent many clumsy-fingered moments slaving over that in my non-artistic way), her second cookbook, Good Tempered Food is a hidden gem of dashingly unusual recipes that are much simpler to prepare than they look. I enjoy tricking people in this way. What cook wouldn’t get pleasure from being told “you must have spent hours slaving over this” when really you just tossed it together an hour before your guests arrived?
What interests me most about this particular book is the prolonged section on Indian food. Not curries or things from your local takeaway but food that Indians would actually eat and not just serve to beer-ed up stags on a Friday night.
These recipes are ingredient intensive. Even I, with my consistently jammed spice jar, had to do a little sniffing around to dig out some of these ingredients. They are not your usual supermarket fare. However, they are easy enough to find online (at least in the UK): Seasoned Pioneers and Natco are just two reasonably priced online spice suppliers. And the best thing about Indian spices? A little goes a long way.
Looking back to the success I had with deep-frying the diced Okra in Fish-Fri, I was intrigued by a photograph in Tamasin’s book, a ramshackle pyramid of red, green and yellow shreds – pepper, onion, ginger and, yes, okra. The vegetables are cut into thin, thin ribbons, then stirred together with gram (chick pea) flour, asofeteda, garam masala and a whole host of other spices, before this jewel-like mixture is dropped, fingerful by fingerful into hot oil. It takes no more than 30 seconds for the spicy coating to turn golden and crisp. Drain and then serve in heaping large piles straight away.
I defy any Okra hating person to identify the mysterious green shards as such in this flavoursome, crispy yet fresh tasting dish, perfect for serving instead of a bowl of tortilla chips or peanuts.
If you want to overcome your fear of Okra once and for all, or, if like us you bear no malice against this gentle, delicious and much-maligned vegetable, here’s how. Bear in mind that you will need to start checking out your local delis or online spice suppliers for some of these ingredients, particularly if this recipe also whets your appetite for buying the book from whence this recipe first originated.
This is my entry for this weekend's Weekend Herb Blogging, held by originator, Kalyn herself!
If this doesn't turn you into a fully paid up, banner carrying, badge wearing Okra fan, then I must turn to the final solution: Chocolate Dipped Okra....

AKRI BHINDI (CRISP OKRA) Taken from Good Tempered Food by Tamasin Day-Lewis
Ingredients:
225g Fresh Okra, tops removed and cut into long straggly strands
25g Red/Green Pepper, cut into thin matchsticks (you can use more if you want)
50g White Onion, peeled and cut gamine strips
1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Ginger, cut into a gangly julienne (I think I've exhausted all of the 'thin' metaphors now)
1/2 Teaspoon Carom Seeds
Pinch Asafoetida
Teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Chilli Powder
20g Gram (Chickpea) Flour
20g Cornflour
1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Coriander for a final scattering
Vegetable Oil for frying
METHOD:
Place the okra, pepper, onion and ginger in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix together all the other ingredients (except, of course, the coriander garnish and the vegetable oil) and sprinkle over the julienned vegetables, tossing thoroughly with your hands to ensure that everything is well coated.
Heat enough oil in a pan (maybe 3 inches up the side of the pan) until a piece of okra starts to sizzle when dropped in.
Carefully drop small handfuls in at a time, removing from the oil using a slotted spoon, when it turns crisp and brown, no more than 30/40 seconds.
Remove each crisp bundle to a plate lined with kitchen roll.
Serve on a large plate and sprinkle over the chopped coriander.
Enjoy!

31 comments:

Little Foodie said...

Undecided about okra but this sounds good. Sometimes when I've had it, it's been stringy & slimey not a good combo.I drafted a post about curry last week which I didn't post as I needed to learn how to do links neatly & properly, so hope you don't think it was copying as I list Natco and Seasoned Pioneers. Amanda

Meeta said...

Being an Indian, I love Okra. My mum made the best Indian style Okra Masaala ever. Frey/Paul this recipe sounds so delicious. I wish I had okra more readily available here. I'd be making this in a heartbeat!

Deborah Dowd said...

I am not an okra fan(though I do love it in soup), but my sister-in law makes it fried the way you describe and it is really good- we couldn't stop eating it. So now, I am going to have to try your recipe out to see if, once and for all I will move to the dark side.

Lydia said...

I've never warmed to okra, though when the mucilage is cooked out I do like the taste. Some of the ingredients in this recipe are not that common in the US, so it will be fun to hunt for them.

Sophie said...

I have had some really horrible okra experiences in the past but yours does look good. I agree with you about Tamsin's book - all of the recipes that I have tried from it have turned out beautifully (if a little ingredient intensive!) I love the tagine with beef and prunes best, especially if you can make it the day before.

Ulrike said...

I thought it's Kalyn hosting herself the WHB this week?

And: I don't adore okra.

Sue (coffeepot) said...

Yummmmy

Joyce said...

Aha, camouflage to the nth degree.

And I thought it was just Southerners, Foreigners and Indians who ate okra. Now we can say Englishmen, too!
Noon day sun or not.
Love the treatment, Indian spices give veggies a whole new perspective. Thanks for sharing this delicious dish.

Kelly-Jane said...

That pile of colourful veggies looks so good! Even I would be willing to give okra a go again - having seen this.

I'm a fan of TDL too, it's a pity she wouldn't do a bit more TV as well as her books. She almost seems a little eccentric, but there is nothing wrong with that.

Callipygia said...

What a great recipe- I like Tamasin Day-Lewis too. I can just imagine the flavor with the chickpea and asafoetida! Its not the okra it is the frying that scares me.

Claudia said...

My mom used to boil it and slide it onto a plate. Bless her heart - she couldn't cook, or taste, to save herself. As a result - i can barely look at it now. Sorry - you lose me on this one ;-)

Mae said...

I really wish i had some okra right now!!! I'll sure remember this recipe for when i find some fresh okra. Looks great!

I have tagged you, you're it [or shall i say, both of you?]. I hope you don't mind... :)

Truffle said...

I am not an okra lover, more just one who tolerates it but I think you've converted me! Stunning photo too :)

Shaun said...

Freya, love - Yes, I'm back in the world of food bloggers! I'm glad to see that you and Paul have really kept pace, and I would still say you have the best food blog out there. I, too, have seen this recipe in Tamasin Day-Lewis' "Good Tempered Food" and have thought of making it. I really have no idea if Okra is available in New Zealand, but I will go to one of the Indian or Fijian-Indian vegetable stores in Auckland to find out. I admire your perserverance in converting the millions out there who do not eat this very fine vegetable, which is also an African staple.

Susan said...

I used to have squeamish thoughts about okra until I had it in the Indian style. Frying is definitely the best way to get the gunk out. This looks delicate, crusty and delicious.

Kalyn said...

I'm convinced, no need to proceed with the chocolate dipped okra! I love the use of chickpea flour (did you know that makes it good for people who are avoiding white flour?) I would love this, no doubt about it.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I love the way my dad always did okra with tomatoes and bacon.
This looks stunning. I'm always looking for a way to trick my husband with okra. This looks like it might have a chance!

SteamyKitchen said...

i LOVE okra...the slimyness is so divine! i don't know why i like it because generally i don't like slime. like i wouldn't pick up a snail off the ground and pop it in my mouth. i like american southern style fried okra like paula deen would make.

T.W. Barritt said...

I don't think I've actually every tried okra. It wasn't the typical veggie growing up on suburban Long Island, and it's got some negative word of mouth. But that dish looks pretty colorful. I may have to take a leap of faith, and give it a try. You are a quite the okra evangelist!

Sig said...

What a great way to cook Okra! I love it any form... but this crispy okra chips will be a great way to cook this amazing vegetable!

tigerfish said...

I'm a believer and already on your side. The Dark Side. *lol*

Jasmine said...

This looks wonderful. I must admit my favourite okra use is in sambar....


j

Kristen said...

I'm convinced ;) What a great recipe.

sra said...

What a lovely looking dish! I'm Indian, and I've never come across this combination, though I have tried crisp-fried okra served as starters and snacks!

valentina said...

Freya, we eat a lot of okra in Brasil but mostly in a type of stew. We have a typical dish which is made of okra and chicken. I once got a lovely recipe from Fran in Flavours. Now your recipe comes as a wonderful surprise. The only ingredient i need to get apart from the okra, is the carmon so I shall get down to it this week. I will let you know how i get on. Love reading every and single one of your posts. You have this most wondeful way of writing..a delight.

Lucy said...

Oh, I have made this. You're right Freya, it is spectacularly good. In fact, so good that I've made it on three separate occasions. With the exception of this dish, okra will never, at least knowingly, pass these lips.

There is something about Tamasin's bossiness ingredient-wise, and her exceptionally good writing skills that makes me feel totally at ease.

Much better than Nigella.

ros said...

Right-if this doesn't make Goon like okra, nothing will. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

sher said...

I grew up eating okra, so I know its virtues. But, it can be a tough sell to others. Your picture is gorgeous, and should convert some people!

Jenny said...

I'm a new transplant to the American south, where okra is a staple. I have been told that the only way to eat it is fried in some manner.

Isn't there something wrong with a vegetable if the only way it is palatable is to fry it? :) Hee.

Your recipe looks good though.

joey said...

I am so challenged by this! I have to admit that I am one of those people who ar not too fond of okra...but this recipe sure got me thinking! Thanks for passing it along and making me think twice :) I'm gonna bookmark this now...

Jeanne said...

I have never tried okra (particularly for its slimy reputation...) - but this looks perfectly manageable ! And how great it looks. I loved the slim metaphors btw - you missed "size zero" though hahahah :o)