Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bhindi/Okra Masala With Panko (bread crumb)



Okra/Bhindi evoke mixed feelings, I don't think a lot of people are crazy about the slime and I think it rarely makes the craving list. Having grown up in a tropical country (it is a popular tropical vegetable), Okra also called lady finger, more appealing name than Okra, is not new to me. I liked Okra and did not know till my adult life that there exists serious Okra haters in this world. Once you get over the slime, you realize that u can cook it in a way that makes it crunchy on the outside but soft (NOT slimy) on the inside. This recipe really highlights the crunchiness I was talking about, the panko really adds to it, it will not disappoint you. Panko is a  is a variety of flaky bread crumb used in Japanese cuisine.

Make sure when you buy the okra they are tiny, firm but tender and a nice bright green. Try breaking the okra tail to ensure freshness, you will hear a crunch sound, if limp it is not fresh and if it does not break - it's too woody and unpalatable. Also its bad okra etiquette to leave broken okra and tails back :).  If wet, please pat dry before you store them, preferably wrapped in an absorbent tissue. Make sure you use it within 3-5 days, they don't have a long shelf life. I don't like to freeze okra, as I feel they lose their crunchiness and yes it does make it more slimy, at least for me. I may not know how to do it the right way. Make sure okra is dry, before you use it . To reduced the slime, you can use something acidic like tamarind juice, vinegar or tomatoes. In this recipe we baked the okra and slime was not an issue so I did not need to use anything acidic.

I have seen okra being used a lot in gumbo and stew, however in Indian cuisine - bharva or masala  Bhindi or stuffed okra is a very common and popular okra dish. You can find the recipe here.

I had used Panko in a recipe for a review and really wanted to try it with other vegetables, well am glad I did :)) Hope you enjoy it as much as we did and yes it is "Finally Teen" approved, so kids will like it.






About a pound or more of okra
2-3 tbsp oil
Couple of handfuls of panko

 Spice blend 
1-2 tsp of garam masala - recipe here 
1/2 - 1 tbsp of smoked red chili powder
I like to make my own, as I don't like the store bought chili powder - it's too fine, I like it a bit course.
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cumin/jeera
salt to taste


Pre heat over to 350F
Coat the okra with oil, sprinkle salt and pepper, bake it in the oven for 30 min or till crisp.

In a pan, heat 1 tbsp oil add cumin, wait to let it splatter, add the panko, salt, 1/2 tsp garam masala, turmeric powder  powder and keep aside.

Take another pan, transfer the okra into this pan, add more oil if you feel its toodry, toss it with the rest of the masala, i.e garam masala, smoked red chili powder.

Now make sure you do NOT mix the panko right now, pix in the panko with the okra right before you serve. The flavor of okra stands out and is complimented by the spices and is not overpowered by it. You can reduce or increase the amount of spice to suit your own taste.

I served it with some hot roti/chapatti  and kadi. ( a yogurt based warm curry). You can also serve it with pineapple raita . And yes serve with some lemon wedges.

Had to share this beautiful sunset from yesterday evening, went to pick finally teen from school and the sky was glorious with its colors - can't believe it is an iPhone click !






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