Crispy Battered Okra with Tomato Sauce and Herb Oil

Battered Okra with Tomato Sauce and Herb Oil

Okra lends itself to crispy frying, and here is another recipe that batters and fries it until crispy, before nestling it on a tomato sauce. It reminds me of fish and chip shop battered potatoes and other vegetables. This is a recipe from Ottolenghi, so it is definitely a modern take on the crispy okra and okra with tomato sauce themes. The okra in the fish-and-chip-shop style batter is topped with sour cream, a tomato and bread sauce, and a gorgeously green herb oil. The batter is made with a touch of polenta, and mixed with buttermilk which gives it a lovely tang.

There will be more herb oil than you need, but it is infinitely versatile. Use the remainder to drizzle onto soups or over roasted vegetables.

Are you looking for other Okra dishes? Read more about Okra here. And try Stir Fried Okra with Sesame Seed, Warm Salad of Charred Okra, Tomato and Preserved Lemon, and Pickled Okra. And check out Turmeric Oil.

Browse all of our Okra recipes, and all of the Ottolenghi dishes that we have made. All of our Ottolenghi dishes are here. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn collection of recipes.

Battered Okra with Tomato Sauce and Herb Oil

Battered Okra with Tomato Sauce and Herb Oil

75g flour
25g polenta
¼ tspn caster sugar
200ml buttermilk
3 Tbspn sparkling water
approx 350ml sunflower oil
250g okra, trimmed
4 Tblspn soured cream
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
oil for deep frying

for the tomato sauce
2 Tblspn olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced
200g fresh tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
200g tinned Italian tomatoes
12 large basil leaves, shredded
1 small slice sourdough or other good white bread, without crusts (I have also used the Greek hard bread, dakos, and it worked very well)

For the herb oil
25g basil, parsley, or a mix of both
3 Tblspn olive oil
1 big garlic clove, peeled and crushed

The tomato sauce and the herb oil can be made in advance.

Heat the olive oil for the sauce in a large frying pan and add the garlic. Let it soften for 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes and 300ml water. Simmer gently for 30 minutes, to thicken, then stir in the basil, some salt and pepper, and the bread – add a little water, if needed, so the bread soaks and breaks up as you stir. The sauce should be thick and hearty, yet runny enough to spoon.

Put all the ingredients for the herb oil in a food processor, along with a pinch of salt, and blitz smooth.

Shortly before serving, make the batter. In a large bowl, mix the flour, polenta, sugar, pinch or two of salt and some pepper. Add the buttermilk and water, and whisk smooth. Pour enough oil into a medium pan to deep-fry the okra (or, to speed things up, use two pans). Heat the oil, then reduce the heat to medium so that the okra doesn’t fry too quickly. Dip a few okra pods in the batter, shake off the excess and fry for two minutes, turning once, until golden-brown. Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt and keep warm while you cook the rest.

Reheat the sauce and spoon on to plates. Pile okra on top and finish with soured cream and herb oil. Serve at once.

recipes notes and alternatives
Don’t have time to make the sauce and oil? Just batter and fry the fritters, sprinkle liberally with sea salt, and serve with lemon wedges. A perfect snack with a cuppa.

If you have remaining sauce, it can be frozen. Pop frozen cubes of the sauce into pasta sauces, soups, risottos and pilafs. Ditto for left over herb oil – use the remainder to drizzle onto soups or over roasted vegetables.

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