There are lots of ways of drying Okra in South India, from the plain – salted and dried, to the curd-soaked okra similar to yoghurt chillies, to okra that is pre-cooked in chilli and tamarind and then dried.
This version partially dries the okra and then blanches them in salt and turmeric (how healthy!) before finishing the drying process. Like all Vathal, the dried okra are fried before use, and can be eaten as snacks, with yoghurt as a pachadi or raita, or included in dishes such as Vatral Kuzhambu.
Traditionally, in India, drying would be done on a roof top terrace in the hottest of suns. I once saw my neighbours put a whole sack of onions out in the sunshine for months to fully dry. Sadly, in other parts of the world, this is not possible. So here, I use a dehydrator with excellent results. You can also dry them in the oven.
You can check out all of our Okra dishes, and all of our Vathal and Vadagam. We have a guide to preserving Summer and Autumn fruits and vegetables for Winter. Or simply explore our Mid Autumn recipes.
The Okra is ready for drying, it is bright green, fleshy and full of moisture. 1kg makes 3 large trays of closely packed, single layered okra. I use a large Excaliber dehydrator.
Okra half way through the process, before the blanching. The okra has reduced in size significantly and is quite tiny. The 3 trays of about 1kg of okra now fits on one tray.
After blanching with turmeric and salt, they are slightly salty and very tasty, ready for the next phase of drying.
Such cute, crispy dried slices are now ready for use.
Dried Okra | Okra Vathal | Crispy Okra
1 kg Okra
1.5 tspn turmeric powder
sea salt to taste – I like the vathal a little salty, so use about 2 – 4 tspn
Scrub the okra, rinse with cold water and either leave to air dry for several hours or pat dry with a towel.
Cut the okra into thin slices, about 1/3 – 1/2 cm in width. Be as consistent as you can with the width of the slices.
for the first drying
Transfer okra to dehydrator trays in a single layer. Dry them for 4 – 6 hours at 52C.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can dry okra in the oven. Spread half of the okra in a single layer on a wire rack sitting on an oven tray. Place in a 75C oven for 4 – 6 hours, turning once. Repeat with the other half.
If you would like to use the free sunshine, place the okra on trays in the sun. Bring inside at night, turn and take out again in the morning. Dry for 2 days.
for blanching the okra
Take the partially dried okra and place in boiling water to which the turmeric and salt have been added. Simmer for 1 minute, then drain well.
for the second drying
Place the okra back onto the dehydrator tray, wire rack or trays, and continue your chosen drying method until the okra is completely dried and crisp.
The okra will be moist again after blanching, and slightly sticky. It is hard to separate them on the tray. Do the best you can, then check the trays every hour, spreading them out more, until they are no longer clumped.
The dried okra can be stored in airtight containers.
Before using the dried okra, heat some ghee or coconut oil in a kadhai or heavy pan and deep fry the okra pieces – they will puff up and become crunchy. Drain them on paper towels and use as desired.
recipe notes and alternatives
I like to blanch 2/3 of the okra, and leave the other third to completely dry as is.