O.K. About Okra

First, let me introduce myself. I'm Erin Hartigan, Food and Dining editor for washingtonpost.com and I'm guest-blogging while Kim is enjoying a much-deserved yoga retreat. I was so eager to post my favorite breakfast cakes with you yesterday that I jumped right into the food. I'm thrilled to share some of my recent cooking adventures.

I'm a fair-weather okra eater. When introduced to it in its pickled or fried Southern-style forms, I don't care for the slimy little things, but in certain preparations, okra is my favorite summer dish. I keep an eye out for it at local farmers markets and was thrilled to see it make an appearance last week.

It wasn't until I spent some time in Nepal that I truly came to appreciate okra. A pivotal part of dal bhat, the standard Nepali meal of lentils and rice, okra spices up the dish in a curry-like preparation that mixes diced okra with hot peppers (okra is known in that region as lady fingers, as its considered best when it is the diameter of a woman's ring finger). When stirring up this meal, I like to mix the chili peppers and okra until it is impossible to differentiate between the subtle okra and the eye-watering chili peppers. Recently, I discovered a delicious preparation that fried long, julienned strips of okra with red onion in a tangy salad. It reminds me why I love this seasonal treat. The following recipe for okra curry is addictively simple. The lemon and tomato cut the spice of the chili peppers on a hot day. When I'm in the mood for more spice, I double the chili peppers.

Okra Curry

This recipe is adapted from food-india.com

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions - diced
4 green chili peppers - stemmed and chopped
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon garam masala
dash of salt to taste
1 pound okra, cut into 1-inch pieces, ends trimmed
1 small tomato, seeded and diced, unpeeled
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, for garnish

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until it thins out across the pan. Add the onions, chili peppers, spices and salt to taste. Cook the onions until they are light golden, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the okra and cook, stirring occasionally, for 12 to 15 minutes. Add the tomato and lemon juice and combine well, simmering for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, if desired. Serve warm over basmati rice or with roti.

Serves 4

By Erin |  July 26, 2006; 8:19 AM ET Seasonal Produce
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Hi Kim, Try adding half a teaspoon of ground fennel powder to the curry. You'll love it.

Posted by: physgrad | July 26, 2006 10:47 AM

Erin, we made almost this exact recipe last night! What a coincidence. Got beautiful okra from a farm in Montgomery County and then made an Indian okra curry. Differences included: we had fresh ginger in ours, and canned chickpeas, and we didn't cut up the okra but instead left it in pods.


Posted by: YUM | July 26, 2006 11:52 AM

Slice Okra in 1cm. round. Take some oil and season with mustard seeds. Sautee the okra till it is cooked and brown. Mix in lowfat yogurt with salt and red pepper flakes. Makes a wonderful raita to be eaten with rice.

This is popular south indian recipe.

Posted by: Sally | July 26, 2006 11:58 AM

Hi ,

Interesting discussion. Just wanted to know from YUM - where is the this farm where you can get fresh okra.

By the way, in India and Nepal you get okra which really looks like 'ladies finger'. Slim,long and very delicious. Here in North America, most of what is available is fat and hard type of okra - Not so tasty.

Posted by: Okralover in Vienna,Va | July 26, 2006 12:26 PM


For really tender okra go to the Indian grocery store. People from India are fanatic about okra and the store stocks fresh okra every week. They are really good and reasonably priced.

Has anyone tried frozen okra.

Posted by: Sally | July 26, 2006 12:30 PM

At the start of ww2 we landed in Karachi india and all we had to eat was okria and we were blessed that our mess sargent was fronm the south and knew how to prepare okria many ways .other guys from next outfit would come over and do kp justto eat our food .

Posted by: tye | July 26, 2006 2:16 PM

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