I’m enchanted by vegetables. Bet you don’t hear that everyday!
Now don’t get me wrong: I’m most definitely an omnivore, and I enjoy meat for most meals on most days, but vegetables are much more interesting and enjoyable for me to prepare and eat.
I didn’t always feel this way. I was never a “picky” eater, but my earlier years were marked by fairly bland, limited vegetables from the can or freezer, and occasionally fresh from the grocery store or farmer’s market. I probably ate more fruit than veggies growing up.
Once I married, my in-laws and their extended family introduced me to many vegetables I had never seen, heard of, or tasted (Chinese Okra! Kadoo! Karela!). Thanks to them, my vegetable experience exploded with flavor and variety that still amazes me.
I think that due to the many Indian vegetarians, and the expense and/or limited availability of meat in many areas, people have taken the vegetables available to them and transformed them into something new and exciting. In order to avoid culinary boredom, home cooks and chefs have created delicious, interesting ways of preparing just about any vegetable you can think of. My father-in-law has often remarked about how wonderful the vegetarian dishes are in India, and though I haven’t been, I believe him wholeheartedly and hope to experience them for myself someday.
One of my favorite vegetables, which just happens to be in season here in California right now, is okra. This tasty little pod is often overlooked or avoided because of its “slime” factor. Okra is used as a thickening agent in gumbos and is often breaded and fried to remove the sticky, slippery, slimy texture that okra can have. However, I have found a way to make okra that is decidedly delicious and not slimy.
I created this recipe on the fly when I had some okra I wanted to cook, but I was missing some ingredients to make it the way my mother-in-law does. So, I improvised. This is now my go-to okra recipe because it is simple, quick to make, and uses ingredients that any stocked half-Indian pantry will have.
I often cook this up for breakfast and serve it alongside a couple of sunny-side up eggs or some type of meat; it is also great as a side dish (for Indian or non-Indian meals alike). Feel free to experiment with the amounts of spices–I like my food hot and spicy, so you might need to adjust for your own taste preferences. I hope you will enjoy this spiced okra as much as I do.
- 1 lb. okra, tops cut off and cut into ½ inch rounds
- 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 1/3 tsp. jeera mix
- 1/3 tsp. haldi
- 1/3 tsp. garam masala
- 1/3 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/3 tsp. mircha
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt, to taste
- Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
- When oil is hot, add jeera mix and allow to pop a little.
- Mix in okra, coating well with the oil. Then add the rest of the spices and sea salt and mix well.
- Cook over medium to medium-high heat until okra is cooked through and slightly browned. The higher heat will help to fend off the slime!
This post is linked to Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday blog carnival.