At the age of 12 I remember telling a family friend that I knew how to cook. When she asked what I could make I rattled off a list of things and when I said “bhindi” (okra) she stopped me and asked how I cook my Okra. I remember being nervous and subsequently relieved that I could ‘remember’ the recipe. My adult self realizes just how funny that was given that this dish has a grand total of 5 ingredients and that’s including the Okra.
This is one of my favorite ways to eat Okra and it is one of the things I make when I want to eat a dish that reminds me of home. It also cooks pretty quickly which is a huge plus in my book.
Cumin and red chilli flakes are besties and when this Okra is cooked in a wok/karhai on a medium high flame they toast up nicely and flavor the Okra without it over cooking. I prefer to use Pakistani or Indian Okra for this dish, the seeds tend to be more delicate that their heftier North American counterparts.
Bhindi ki Sabzi / Spicy Pakistani Okra
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side
1 lb Okra
3-4 dried whole red chillies
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ rounded tsp red chilli flakes
½ rounded tsp salt
Oil for cooking (a little less than ¼ cup)
Line up your okra and stack them into as large a pyramid as you can comfortably ‘hold’ while chopping. Slice off the tops and then slice them fairly thinly – approx ½ cm. I ended up with approximately 4 cups chopped.
Heat the oil in a wok over medium high heat. Add the dried chillies and cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds start to brown add the salt and red chilli flakes, stir. I like to add salt and spices straight into my oil because flavoured oil does a nice job of seasoning the vegetables.
Add the Okra and move it around every few minutes gently so as to not mash it. If it starts to stick then add a teeny bit more oil. The okra should be cooked through in 15 minutes. Cooking time can vary though so just do a quick taste test for doneness. Cooked properly it should retain shape, but be slightly soft. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
I love this with simple roti and dahi/yoghurt, but it is also yummy with some daal chawal.