Once upon a time when I was spending a few weeks in Kerala, I had some cooking classes with a chef from the Leela. What a joy these classes were, with me madly taking notes and taking photos while my beautiful chef cooked and explained, cooked and explained. One of the dishes we cooked was this Okra Masala.
Every now and again I come across some of the notes from those recipes, and, just as I needed it, the scribbled notes on this ladyfinger (okra) curry came to my attention once again. It brought back memories of that beautiful time in Kerala and the amazing food to be found in the Leela, the vegetarian restaurant just up the road, all through Trivanderam and in the other homes and cafes where I ate. Each trip to India has been memorable and this one no less so than any other.
Bhindi Masala | Kerala Okra Curry
25 or so medium okra (ladyfingers), or carrots
2 – 3 Tblspn coconut oil
0.25 tspn cumin seeds
1.5 tspn ginger-garlic paste
1 onion, sliced
1 sprig curry leaves
2 green chillies, sliced
0.5 tspn turmeric
0.5 tspn Kashmiri chilli powder
1.5 tspn coriander powder
0.5 cup water or light vegetable stock
1 medium-large tomato, diced finely, almost pureed
curry leaves to garnish
sea salt to taste
Wash the okra well and dry with a kitchen towel. Slice the okra into 1 cm slices.
Place the okra in a bowl with the onions, chillies, curry leaves, chilli powder, turmeric, coriander powder and salt. Mix well to coat the okra pieces in the spices.
Heat the coconut oil in a kadhai, clay pot or heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and allow to splutter a little. Add the garlic and ginger paste and allow to cook for 30 seconds, stirring.
Add the okra and onion mixture and cook for 5 mins. Add the tomato and cook for 2 mins.
Now add the water or stock, and cook over low heat for about 8 mins or until the okra is tender but still retains some crispness and the water has evaporated.
Garnish with curry leaves. Serve with rice and a Kerala Mung Dal.
recipe notes and alternatives
This is even better the next day!