Whenever I see okra, the first thing that comes to my mind is it’s link with exams 😛 If you are a South Indian, you would probably know okra, as the vegetable of intelligence. According to all the elders in my family, it is said to improve memory power, and is especially great for solving math problems 😀 You can only imagine how much okra I must have eaten to improve my math skills, only to end in vain.
It has been a while since I made anything okra, so today I thought of sharing the recipe of a dish we make often; a very simple stuffed okra fry! 🙂 This is a very easy, basic recipe requiring nothing fancy, but what it delivers in terms of taste is probably the best version of okra you will ever have eaten 😉 My grandma found this recipe in one of those Tamil magazines that ladies often bought back then; my mum still does (have you heard of “Mangayar Malar”? :D). They often have interesting recipes as well as tips and tricks for aspiring cooks. She made this one afternoon for lunch, and we’ve been hooked ever since!
The main stuffing element here is Idli milagai podi (chutney powder for idlis, dosas, etc). Keep in mind that this recipe works best with idli podi that has been coarsely ground; you will taste the crunchy bits of the podi along with the tender, yet crispy okra! Even if you are not a fan of idli podi in general, this recipe will probably be a game-changer for you 😉 If not, you could always make your own spice mix (Simply combine equal quantities of coriander powder, cumin powder and garam masala) and stuff it in.
This goes excellently well with curd rice (The king of all dishes IMO), chapatis/rotis, puris, and as the “masala stuffing” for Dosa if you are bored of the regular aloo masala. Read on for the recipe!
- Okra- about 250g, or roughly 13-15 medium-sized okra
- Idli milagai podi/Chutney pudi (Spice powder)- enough to fill each okra piece, plus 2-3 tsp to coat them
- Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
- Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder- 1 or 2 tsp
- Cooking oil- 2-3 tsp for the tempering, 2 tsp to coat the okra
- Hing/Asafoetida- a pinch
- Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
- Split Urad Dal- 1 tsp
- Channa Dal- 1 tsp
Prepping the okra:
- Start off by washing the okra well under running water, pat them dry with a cloth or tissue. Make sure they are completely dry, else they become sticky while cooking them.
- Cut each okra into 1-1.5 inch pieces. Then, make a vertical slit without going all the way through (i.e., they have a base). Fill each piece with the spice powder with a knife or a spoon, making sure to close it while you are pulling the knife out to prevent the powder from falling out. Repeat the process for each okra.
- Use any fallen powder plus about a teaspoon or two and sprinkle over all the okra, followed by turmeric powder, red chilli powder and oil. Mix well, set aside for about five minutes.
Making the okra fry:
- Start with the tempering: Heat a plan with some oil. Once hot, add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Then add the hing, followed by the dals and let them turn a nice golden colour.
- Add your okra to this, give it a stir and cook it covered until tender, on a low flame. The okra will shrink in size. Once tender, remove the lid and continue to sautè them every couple of minutes or so. Make sure the flame is on the lowest, so that the okra does not burn, and is nice and crispy on all sides. This process takes about 8-10 minutes. The result is crispy okra on the outside, that is soft and tender on the inside.
TIPS AND TWEAKS
- Make sure your okra is young (the key is that the tail when bent should not break, i.e., it should be flexible)
- I did not add salt as the spice powder has enough salt in it, but add more in the end if you feel the need for it.
- Feel free to add the spice powder according to your personal preference. Idli podi is generally medium-spicy. Adding too much will not make it spicier; it will only make the flavour more potent.
- Go easy on the oil as this will ensure even cooking of your okra and will give it a nice, crispy texture (This is okra fry after all 😉 )
Try this and let us know how it turned out in the comments below! 🙂
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