Another dish from Ottolenghi, this one was inspired by one of his trips to Malaysia. It is a loose take on Nasi Lemak, definitely the country’s most popular breakfast. But be warned: it is quite spicy. You can make the spice paste with far fewer chillies than Ottolenghi prescribes – feel free to just use half a fresh chilli and half a dried chilli if that is to your taste. In actual fact, we make this recipe with the sambals and sambal style chilli mixes that we have on hand (quite a few) rather than make his, and I have included both his recipe and links to our other pastes, purees and sambals that are suitable.
We like this variation on typical okra recipes. In this one the okra is simmered for a few moments only and then served mixed with the chilli-onion sambal on coconut rice. Use the freshest and best quality okra, because it is cooked so briefly.
Don’t omit the crispy fried shallots (available from Indian and Asian grocers) or the coriander. They add some texture and flavour to the dish that is essential to the overall impact.
Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Roast Okra with Tomato, Lemon and Coriander Seeds, Crispy Battered Okra in Tomato Sauce, Malaysian Lemak Style Vegetables, Sri Lankan Okra Curry, and Goan Okra with Chilli-Spice Paste.
Okra with Sambal and Coconut Rice
I have included Ottolenghi’s recipe for the sambal below, but we have several chilli sambals that we love to use, and have made this dish with them. Check them out: Balinese Sambal Iris – a lovely fresh sambal, gorgeous with this dish; Tomato and Chilli Jam; Sambal Dabo Lilang (to be published soon); incredibly hot Chilli Jam, and Harissa. Any of these will work well. Chinese Black Bean -Chilli paste mixed with a cooked chilli paste/sambol also works very very well.
2 Tblspn crispy fried shallots (from Asian grocers, or use dry onion flakes)
1 big handful coriander, chopped
2 limes, halved
5 fresh red chillies (30g), deseeded, or to taste
5 dried red chillies (4g), deseeded, or to taste
20 red baby shallots (100g), peeled
1 clove garlic, peeled
0.5 tspn sea salt
130ml vegetable oil
1 Tblspn caster sugar
1 Tblspn thick tamarind water (seedless tamarind paste whisked with a little water and strained)
325g basmati rice
0.5 tspn salt
175ml coconut milk
6 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
6 thin slices ginger
start with the sambal
Put the chillies, shallots, garlic and salt in a food processor, add two tablespoons each of oil and water, and process for a minute, until you have a fine paste (or do this with a pestle and mortar, in which case add the liquids after you have a paste).
Put a wok or large, heavy frying pan on a high heat. Add the remaining oil and, when hot, add the paste and stir. Reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes, until it’s dark red and oily. Off the heat, stir in the sugar and tamarind water, and set aside.
cook the rice
Wash the rice in cold water, drain and put in a medium pan. Heat the rice a little, then add the salt, coconut milk, water, lime leaves and ginger. Stir, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to minimum. Cover, simmer for 12 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave covered for another 10 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, bring a medium pan of water to a boil. Add the okra and cook for two to three minutes only. Drain, refresh under cold water and leave to dry.
Gently reheat the sambal, then stir in the okra to warm it up (don’t cook it any longer). Fluff the rice with a fork, and spoon into bowls. Top with okra and sauce, and sprinkle over fried shallots and coriander. Put half a lime with each serving, for squeezing over.