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Dry-fried Indian okra recipe?

At Sultan, one of my favorite Indian restaurants here in SF, there is a dish of stir fried okra. It has lots of spices, so it's very flavorful, but it's not at all wet or slimy - it's pretty dry.

Does anyone know of any recipe for an okra dish like this? I just bought some okra at the farmer's market. I guess I'm looking for more technique than for a real recipe....how should I cook the okra so it comes out tender and fully cooked, but not at all slimy (and not covered in sauce either)

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Dave MP

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  1. I like this crispy okra recipe (Bhindi Kurkure) from Gourmet Indian in Minutes. Simply coat okra slices in a chickpea flour and spice mix, then deep fry. Add or subtract spices to your liking, but the amchur is important, I think, because it gives some tartness. I usually add cumin, too.

    1 1/4 lbs okra sliced diagonally (2 1/2 cups)
    1 tsp red chilli powder (to taste)
    1 tsp turmeric
    1/2 tsp amchur (mango powder)
    Salt to taste
    3 Tbl chickpea flour (besan)
    Small pinch sugar

    Slice the okra diagonally so you have larger surfaces. Mix ingreds through salt, add okra, and mix. Deep fry in batches til crispy. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of sugar.

    For an easy stir-fried okra dish that is dry and not slimy, try this method, and adjust to your taste:

    1. you can pan fry sliced okra and it doesn't come out slimy. I slice into wheels, maybe 1/2 inch thick, and toss with corn meal. Then pan fry a few minutes per side till crispy. Then drain and salt immediately. Let cool for a few minutes, the insides are like lava right out of the pan. I usually top with just salt and chile powder but I'm sure you can find the right seasoning mix for an indian style flavor. Probably stuff like coriander, cumin, tumeric, chile powder

      1. NOT deep fried: Toss a bit of oil and your spices and aromatics and chile into a wok and let integrate, toss in diagonal sliced okra and stir/toss fry until done. Toss in a shot of whitre wine if things get too dry. Easy and good.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          Cool, this idea (and Channa's recipe at the bottom of the post) sound good. Deep frying and breading/frying also sound good, but I'm definitely looking for a stir-fry type dish, more like the foodwithapinchoflove recipe or what Sam F. describes.

          I'll let you all know how it turns out!

          Dave MP

          1. re: jen kalb

            This idea of slicing lengthwise seems good. The book Mangoes and Curry Leaves is gorgeous; I'll paraphrase their okra (bindi) recipe that I've made a few times.

            1/2 lb okra (2 cups)
            3 T raw sesame oil or veg oil
            1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
            1/2 tsp ground coriander
            1/2 tsp tumeric
            1/2 c finely chopped onion
            1 T minced garlic
            1 T minced ginger
            1/2 tsp garam masala
            1/2 tsp salt
            1 green cayenne chile, minced (I used a serrano)

            The recipe says to wash the okra but I don't do that, want to avoid slime. Cut off stems. Set aside.

            Heat wok or heavy skillet over med-high heat. When hot, add oil. Add mustard seeds, then cover briefly while they pop. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric and stir into oil. Add onion, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until onion softens, about 5 min.

            Add the okra, garam masala and salt and stir-fry 6-8 min (I like it undercooked a bit) Add minced chile and fry another 2 min.

            1. re: walker

              That does sound good! How much cumin would that be?

              1. re: Channa

                Sorry I missed that: it says: 1 tsp whole or ground cumin seeds (I think ground is better; you can grind it yourself.)

              2. re: walker

                I have frozen, sliced okra. Can I use that? Is there something I should do differently if using frozen?

                1. re: piccola

                  I just sizzle whole cumin seeds in oil and dump in the frozen okra. It isn't optimal I suppose but it's good. Cover to get the defrost going then uncover and cook in one layer. I like it cooked way down to little crispy brown nubbins, it takes a good long while on medium/medium low. It's also fine before that stage. I used to defrost on paper towels, that went a bit quicker but I'm lazy.

                  1. re: Aromatherapy

                    Recently I tried starting on stovetop in heavy skillet, spreading frozen okra in a layer, sticking in hot oven. Works great, why has it taken me decades years to think of it?

            2. You should wash the okra, just let it air dry and it should be well dried before cooking. I usually air dry it on top of paper towels about an hour before I am ready to cook. The cut it in halves or thirds, slice diagonally for "looks."

              You could really season this anyway you like. A simple stir fry would be:

              2-3 tbs oil
              1 tsp cumin seeds
              2-3 dried red chilie pods
              1 tsp red chili powder
              1 tsp cumin
              1 tsp aamchoor

              salt to taste AFTER cooking

              garnish with crisp fried garlic slivers.

              When your okra is good and dry, heat oil add cumin seeds and red chili pods, allow to sizzle, then cook add in okra on and cook still on high heat for about 5 mins, lower heat and cover for 5 minutes, then remove the cover, add in the red chili powder and cumin powder, stir fry for 5-7 minutes more on high heat until your okra is just tender. Turn off heat, add salt and aamchoor. You could also add a squirt of lemon juice (1 tsp).

              For stir fry, the trick to prevent slime is that it should be well dried and first cooked on high heat, and to prevent a mushy texture, it shouldn't be cooked covered for too long.

              There are also okra recipes in which the okra is deep fried to crisp them up. That actually works best. My favorites are recipes in which the okra is shredded as finely as hair (floss) or cut into nickel thin rounds, and then deep fried and seasoned afterwords with chaat masala, chili powder, and lime juice.

              2 Replies
              1. re: luckyfatima

                How sour does the bhindi masala get with the amchur? I usually use a good splash of lemon juice and a touch of sugar in my spice mixture, but would be interested in switching it up.

                1. re: JungMann

                  Aamchur has a duller sourness than lemon juice. It is a different flavor altogether, just as tamarind is different than lemon juice. You only need a sprinkle to do the trick. I actually usually use an aamchoor laden chaat masala for a dry deep fried bhindi, and use straight aamchoor (plus cumin, coriader, and red chili powder) for stir fried bhindi stuffed with masala.

                1. i learned the same technique as luckyfatima. you want to dry the okra very well after washing and air dry for a while to make sure all the moisture is gone from the surface. cut with a dry knife. also, when you are cooking the okra, stir as little and as gently as possible. breaking apart the pieces results in sliminess.

                  a family friend's nepalese-indian cook, who makes the best okra i've ever eaten, also adds a dusting of gram flour near the end of cooking to further dry.

                  1. Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I made okra tonight and it came out great. My housemate and I devoured the entire 1/2 pound easily.

                    I followed Walker's recipe almost exactly, mainly because I had all those ingredients in my house. I sliced the okra diagonally - it was completely dry when I cut it and cooked it. I took luckyfatima's advice and added salt at the very end. I also added some fried garlic at the end. The okra cooked perfectly, not slimy at all, and very nicely seasoned. I'm excited to play around with other spice combinations, but this was a really great start.

                    Thanks again everyone for the advice

                    Dave MP

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Dave MP

                      I'm glad you enjoyed it; consider buying the book "Mangoes and Curry Leaves" -- I think you'd enjoy it -- got mine from Amazon.

                      1. re: Dave MP

                        I have an Indian friend who "dries" her okra every so slightly in the oven before she proceeds with her recipe. You have to be careful, though, that you don't actually cook it.

                        1. re: Dave MP

                          Where do you buy your okra? Best I've found is at Monterey Mkt in Berkeley.

                          1. re: walker

                            I bought mine last week at Alemany Farmer's Market......it was a bit on the large side, but overall pretty good.

                            I have noticed it at some of the places on 24th St. in SF, but quality and price haven't been as good. I haven't paid attention to quality and prices at conventional and Asian groceries yet.

                          1. America's Test Kitchen offered some tips on ensuring your home-cooked okra stays crisp and not slimy in their book <i>Perfect Vegetables</i>.


                            -When choosing okra pods, only select small ones. The likelihood of sliminess increases the larger the pod is. They recommend hand-picking pods no bigger than 3 inches long.
                            -In the actual recipe they provide, you get the oil (they use olive oil, about 2 Tbsp for 1 lb stemmed okra pods) in your pan hot, nearly smoking. Make sure the pan is large enough to prevent steaming the okra.
                            -Only cook the okra for as long as it takes to turn bright green, then quickly remove it to a cool bowl. This only takes 3 or 4 minutes!

                            They then use the pan to make a more Italian-ish but super delicious standard tomato sauce for the okra--canned diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, a bunch of minced garlic, sugar, and fresh basil. That's delicious too, if you ever want to try it that way. Lightning fast.

                            But yeah, as far as technique goes, use small pods and do everything in your power to prevent steaming the okra. What you want instead is indeed stir-fry technique here--brief contact with very hot oil and not too much of it, in order to "seal" the outside of the okra and stay crispy.

                            Not that you need to know this, but never microwave okra either. My friend has a horror story involving zapping some okra, leaving the room for a second, and coming back to find the slime creeping out of the microwave! Yuck.

                            1. From my inexact memory--don't have access to my cookbooks--my Indian fried okra recipe involves slicing the okra into half-inch-thich wheels, frying in a skillet (not sure if any oil is used) until ultra crispy, and then topping with dashes of cayenne, turmeric and garam masala.

                              A mos' tasty dish. Be sure to make plenty.

                              1. If anyone lives in or visits Boston, the hotel restaurant at Taj (the old Ritz Carlton overlooking the commons) has a Bhindi Amchoori that is out of this world, I ate it twice in two days! The okra was sliced lengthwise and I didn't really notice the dried mango powder as a distince flavor, but fresh and delish. No slime. Next trip to the south asian market, I'm getting some amchoor so I can make it myself.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: MiamiBeachRichard

                                  I think slicing lenthwise and cooking on high heat help a lot.

                                2. You can bake the okra in the oven to cut down on the goo. Wash the okra and pat it dry, then let it air dry for awhile - moisture makes the goo goo-ier. When you're fairly sure its pretty dry, cut into rounds or slices, whatever floats your boat. There will still be some goo, but it shouldn't be too bad. Spread it out on a cookie sheet and bake in a low oven (like 250) for oh 30 minutes maybe? Until you see it starting to shrink. Then pan fry it. With or without oil. I usually dry pan fry it because there will be oil enough in the curry later.

                                  Set it aside and prepare the popu/tadka (masala for a dry curry)

                                  Heat some oil, a T or 2 of peanut oil or mustard oil. I like mustard oil with okra and potatoes - but it does smell awful, metallic, when you heat it up. That is the bitter oils coming out of the oil, they are volatile and burn off easily. Anyway. Add a T or so each of chana dal and urad dal. If you don't have that just skip it. When it starts to brown, add about 1.5 tsp of cumin seed. When that starts to brown (should take a minute or two) throw in about 1 tsp of black mustard seeds. Immediately add 3 crumbled up dried chilis and about a dozen curry leaves (if you can find them).

                                  Give it a good stir and add 1 tsp of tamarind powder and 1/8th tsp of ajwain seed if you have it. Don't get generous with the ajwain, in small amounts it is wonderful, but go just a speck too much and it'll be something you wish you'd never stumbled across in a dark alley. Add 1 tsp each of ground cumin and ground coriander - freshly roasted and ground is best if possible. Give it all a good stir again and now dump in your choice of onions, garlic, and/or ginger. For Okra I prefer just garlic (minced), 2 or 3 cloves, about a T of ginger paste is also good but I personally think onions are wasted on this particular dish, YMMV, experiment and see what you like. Dump in your pre-fried/baked okra and stir well to coat with the spices and oil. If you have garam masala add about 1 tsp and stir it in well. Let it brown a little, serve over rice.

                                  Oh yeah, salt to taste at some point.