Saturday, September 24, 2011
This is one vegetable I simply cannot pass up. It's not too common here (another thing I miss about living in Texas), so whenever I see it I get very excited. On a recent shopping trip, I scored some okra and cooked up this Indian-inspired dinner off the cuff.
Then I got lucky again at the farmers market and made the same dish for the second time in as many weeks. It was such a winner, with the okra's flavor and texture in the starring role, and a variety of aromatic spices playing the supporting cast. A meal that makes your taste buds sing and one you can feel good about eating too!
2 tablespoons canola oil
¼ teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 yellow onion, julienned
10 ounces okra, cut into ¾-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon minced ginger
¾ teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
Generous pinch cayenne pepper
1 14 ½-ounce can diced tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
Combine the oil and mustard seeds in a large, heavy sauté pan, cover, and heat over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Add the onion and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the okra and sauté another 1 to 2 minutes, or until it turns bright green. Add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne and sauté 1 to 2 minutes more, or until fragrant. Add the tomatoes (along with their liquid), reduce the heat to low, and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until the okra is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a platter, sprinkle with the cilantro, and serve immediately.
Serves 4 as a healthy, vegetarian main course, as long as there's plenty of cooked basmati rice to go with it. Perfect in the summertime, when okra is in season. Select small okra, no larger than your pinkie finger, as it’s the most tender. Garam masala is an Indian spice blend which includes roughly equal parts of toasted and ground cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black peppercorns, cumin, and possibly coriander or nutmeg. You can find it at most well-stocked grocery stores, or, if you are feeling more adventurous, you can make your own.