I got to eat it after such a long time. Hubby went to the Asian grocery store recently and got me these and even karela (Bitter melon)!! You can't imagine how happy I was. I love both these vegetables and it had been ages that I had eaten them. I will post about the karelas some other time, but here is the bharma bhindi recipe which I have learned from my mother, but this time I realised that it has been so long that I didn't even remember how to make it and some how the timing was so bad that I couldn't even call any of my sisters at that time, so I just thought hard and got it more or less right. Although, I did make a variation: I also added coriander powder which my mother didn't use while making Bharma bhindi. Another thing, which I wouldn't do next time: I roasted my spices before. I think this step is not necessary, as the okras get roasted long enough in the pan for the spices to be roasted separately.
Before I begin, I have to tell you something about the traditions of cooking in my family, which is not unique to my family alone but probably more to the region from where my family originates - the state of U.P., India. I still remember my mom telling me that my father's (paternal) grandmother - my great grand mother, was very particular about the kind of food served to her when she came to visit his mother - my grandmother. Over a short period of time we - my parents and us children- and my grandparents lived together and I remember the visit of my great grandmother - yes, I got to see her for quite some time of my childhood - something I was always so proud of, as I didn't know many friends or classmates who had great grandparents and I had two great grandmothers -one on maternal side and one on the paternal side with both of them we children had a lot of fun! :)
So, coming back to the topic, she was very particular about eating food which was cooked without any onions and garlic. If she ever saw a skin of onion or garlic in the house when she came to visit us, then she would surely not touch the food, that strict she was. My grandparents were one of the first generation of people who deviated from this culture and started including onions and garlic in their food. In contrast to his mother, my grandfather was a big garlic lover and attributed it many health properties. I still remember, how he used to say that one should swallow 1 clove of garlic (from the variety with very thin and tiny cloves) every morning and drink a large glass of water afterwards. His favorite chutney was also coriander(cilantro)-garlic chutney.
So, maybe you can guess that this is one of those recipes of okra I grew up eating which does not use any onions or garlic, but still is very tasty, being so full of spices.
Here it goes...
Bharma Bhindi (stuffed Okra)
NOTE: Recipe requires the use of latex gloves, if you don't want the yellow colour of turmeric to stay on your hands, which is otherwise quite healthy actually. I don't use it though, as it goes away after a few washings, which may however take a day.
20-25 okras, washed, pat dried
2 tbsp oil for frying
1 tsp ajwain (carom seeds) (optional)
2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro, for garnishing
1 heaped tsp turmeric
2 heaped tbsp coriander seeds, ground (optional)
3 heaped tbsp fennel seeds, coarsely ground
4 tsp Amchur (dried unripe mango powder) - sour in taste as it is made from unripe very young sour mangoes
1/4th tsp red chili powder (or more - to taste)
1/2 tsp black salt
2 tbsp oil, just enough to bind the powdered spice mixture
2 tsp salt, or to taste
- mix all the spices and enough oil to bind the mixture
- then add enough salt that it tastes a bit too salty, but not too much, as when okra dries out while frying, it does not require as much salt
- check each okra for freshness while preparing it, if it is fresh then you will be able to cut it easily with out it showing any resistance
- carefully cut off the lower tip of the okra, if required - sometimes it has become dark in colour and it is a good indication if it can be easily cut off that it is still fresh otherwise it has become too fibrous to be eaten
- cut off the caps of okras so that a thin layer of it is left behind to hold it together once they are slit in the middle
- slit the okra deep along the length on the concave side (inner side of the curve it often has), but not the ends - the caps and lower tips - keep them intact - prevents the stuffing to come out while frying.
- fill the stuffing with hands by taking a small amount between the fingers and pressing it gently into the slit in the middle and then pressing and moving your fingers on the filling sidewards in both the directions -sounds easier than it appears!
- Fill all the okras like this
- heat 1 tbsp oil in a shallow pan and add ajwain till it splutters, remove ajwain immediately and set aside
- add 1 more tbsp oil and put all the okras into the pan, keeping the stuffed / slit side upwards or sidewards
- fry on medium heat initially and then medium low heat, turning each one of them carefully once or twice till they turn soft
- if the pan gets too hot sprinkle with a tbsp of water in between
- as per your taste, you can either remove the okras once they are cooked or let them fry further till they start turning crispy
- serve warm (or even cold), garnished with cilantro, with any kind of toasted bread - Indian or others, or rice and daals as an option
I'm so happy to send this over to Weekend Herb Blogging, my first ever participation to it, and this time it is being hosted by dear Ivy of Kopiaste!