I decided to eat healthy foods from January 1st so that includes a lot of vegetarian dish in the menu. My refrigerator is stocked with green, red, purple, yellow and white colored vegetables. I have been cooking the right stuffs for the last 10 days. I have been spending good chunk of my after-work time chopping the vegetables. I shopped for boy choy, methi leaves, bell peppers, carrots, beets, lettuce, spring mix, spinach, mushrooms and lemon grass at the farmer’s market and tindora, pineapple, mango, avocados, okra, cluster beans at the Indian store to cleanse and detox my body for the next 10 days. I ate beans like mung bean in place of rice and I made little tweaks along the way. Today after 10 days of nutritious, fibrous meals, I am FIVE pounds lighter. Isn’t that awesome? I didn’t lose anything more than my initial 30 pound weightloss. I got rid of the four pounds I gained during the holidays. That extra one pound loss is a bonus for being nice to my body 🙂
Today’s post is about how to make good looking okra / lady’s finger curry, ofcourse the way I love it – The South Indian way. The green, long slender vegetable is called Okra in the US and in England and other once British invaded colonies like India, Sri Lanka, et al, they are refereed to as Lady’s Finger. Dishes made with okra is very popular in Indian households. I remember my mom forcing me to eat this sticky, viscous vegetable as everyone known to me believed that consuming okra will improve mathematics skills. I am not sure whether it’s a fact or myth but what I know is that okra is rich in fibre, vitamin C, calcium, potasium and folate content. They provide excellent source of antioxidants to the body.
During my initial days of cooking, I have never gathered the courage to cook okra as I ended up making a gooey lump of mass which no one ate. But over the years, I learnt the trick to cook it right from my mom.
Tips to cook the okras right
- Rinse, clean and wash them. Dry the okra with a kitchen towel.
- Chop the okra into roundels (that’s the preferred shape).
- Place them in a colander at room temperature for 15- 30 minutes. This helps to dry the vegetable a bit. You can leave it for a longer time but I beleive in cooking any vegetable within 30 minutes of chopping.
- Use a flat saucepan with a wider base (a pan with a larger surface area so that okras don’t touch or crowd around eachother)
- My mom used close to 1/4 cup oil to cook 1-2 pounds okra but I used 1 tablespoon olive oil and little cooking spray to crisp them.
- Cook the first 5 minutes on high flame, then simmer it and sprinkle water just to rinse them and cook covered for 20 minutes. I cook my Okra al-dente.
- I also add besan/ chana dhal flour (roasted chickpea flour) to coat them.
- Always sprinkle water over the okra.
- Do not pour water on one side of the pan and then use a spread the water. This is will make it break and dish will turn sloopy.
- While cooking okra, make sure you use the spoon for a minimum number of times.
VENDAKKAI VARUVAL / SOUTH INDIAN OKRA CURRY
Serves: Family of 3-4
- 1 tablespoon olive oil + cooking spray (canola, olive or any oil of your choice)
- 2 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon white lentils (urad dhal)
- 10 curry leaves
- 4 garlic cloves – chopped
- 1 teapsoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon medium hot chili powder (use it as per your heat tolerance)
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 pound okra
- 1/2 – 1 cup besan / roasted chickpea flour ( use as needed)
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 cup water to cook
- Chop the okras into thin roundels and leave it in a colander or arrange over a kitchen tissue/towel and let it air dry for 20-30 minutes. Set aside.
- Use a heavy bottom pan with a large surface area (meaning hugely circular, spacious cooking saucepan with a fitting lid). Heat oil. Once hot, add mustard seeds and let it pop.
- Add the urad dhal, curry leaves and garlic. Saute for 30 seconds
- Sprinkle turmeric, chili and coriander powder. Mix and add 1/4 cup water to prevent burning.
- Add the okras and spread it to form a single layer. Don’t over crowd them. Raise up the heat to high and let it roast for 5 minutes. Make sure you don’t burn it.
- Reduce the flame to the lowest. Sprinkle the besan and using a spatula or flat wooden spoon, gently fold the okras with the besan. Spray cooking spray as per your liking. I did 5 single spray, just enough oil to coat them.
- Drizzle water over the okra and cook covered on medium flame for 15 minutes. Sprinkle more water if needed.
- Add salt to taste. I generally raise up the heat to high for 2-5 minutes to crisp them up further. I like the charred look.
- Okra has low glycemic index and can be eaten on phase 1 of South beach diet.
- It is a nutritional addition to a healthy diet. It is ideal for women with gestational diabetes and people who are diabetic/pre-diabetic. I eat okra with my lentil soup (dhaal)
- It can also be eaten during weightloss.