In this okra dish, the okra are slit and stuffed with an onion-based spice mixture before being quickly sautéed and then steamed until tender. It is a delicious dish that does not pack a chilli heat punch. The spices used are gentle and warming, and it is a good dish for convincing your friends that okra is a special and wonderful vegetable.
This is a Madhur Jaffrey okra dish. She seems to have a special affinity to okra, and loves them with onions.
Whole Okra Stuffed with Onions and Spices
500 g okra
8 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
5cm piece ginger root, grated
2 tspns cumin seeds
4 tspn fennel seeds
20 fenugreek seeds
10 Tblspn ghee
1 tspn turmeric powder
4 tspn garam masala
2 Tblspn lemon juice
First, make the stuffing. It is easier to cook in 2 batches or in 2 pans simultaneously.
For each batch/pan: Heat 5 Tblspn of ghee in a frying pan over medium heat, and when hot, add half of the cumin, fennel and fenugreek seeds. As they begin to crackle and pop, add half of the onion, garlic and ginger with 0.5 tspn turmeric powder.
Stir and saute over medium heat for 10 – 15 minutes until the onions are a rich brown. Stir frequently.
Add 0.5 tspn salt and 1 tspn garam masala and stir. Turn the heat off, and remove the mixture to a bowl, leaving as much of the ghee behind in the pan as you can.
Once you have all of the stuffing cooked and in a bowl, add another 2 tspn garam masala and the lemon juice, and set aside to cool.
Now for the okra. While the stuffing is cooking, rinse the okra and dry each one individually and carefully. Trim the top and the lower tip without cutting into the seed casing.
Stuffing the okra takes a little time, so arrange the okra, stuffing and a small sharp knife at the table and this allows you to sit down and stuff.
Pick up one okra pod at a time. Make a slit along the length but don’t go through to the opposite side. Leave about 3mm at each end of the okra.
Slip your left thumb into the slit to keep it open, and pick up a little of the stuffing at a time and push it into the slit. Depending on the size of the okra, it will take between 0.25 – 1 tspn of the stuffing. Place the stuffed okra aside on a platter.
You might like to cook the okra in 2 batches or again use 2 frying pans.
for each batch/pan of okra: Heat the pan over medium heat. Lay half the okra slit side up in the pan in a single layer if possible. Cook for 5 minutes. Sprinkle salt over the okra, and add 2 Tblspns warm water. Cover, lower the flame to lowest setting, and cook gently for 20 – 30 mins until the okra is tender.
Lift the okra out gently and arrange on a warm platter. Serve with Rice and Peas Pilaf and Potato Subzi. It goes well with any Indian meal.