Okra is so very good in the shops right now, as I write, so I grabbed some from the Asian market in my last shopping trip. Lovely thin, tender, long spears of goodness – how we love them.
You will love this recipe. It is as simple as Indian cooking can get. The okra is sliced and cooked with tamarind, green chillies and a little toor dal. Other recipes will add tomatoes, onions, garlic, sambar powder or other spices, coconut, etc, but I prefer this simple, honest preparation from the Palghat (Palakkad) area of Kerala. I have made it quite thick, as you can see, as I prefer it that way, but you can have more sauce if you prefer. I found this approach in the book Classic Tamil Brahman Cuisine by Viji Varadarajan.
Vendakkai Puli Kootu | Okra Tamarind Kootu
500g okra, trimmed and chopped into 0.5cm rounds
0.5 cups toor dal
2 Tblspn thick tamarind pulp
0.25 tspn turmeric powder
pinch asafoetida powder
2 – 4 green chillies, split almost into 2
sea salt to taste
1 tspn brown mustard seeds
2 tspn ghee
Cook the dal in 2.5 cups water until very soft and disintegrating. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a kadhai and pop the mustard seeds. As the popping subsides, add the okra and saute for a few moments. Add the green chillies, turmeric and asafoetida, and saute on a medium flame for 2 minutes. Sprinkle water as needed.
Add a few Tblspns water, cover, and allow to cook over a low heat for 2 minutes, stir again, and continue to cook until the okra is tender.
Add sea salt to taste and the tamarind water, and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Then add the dal, mix well, and simmer until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.
Serve with rice. Delicious.
recipe notes and alternatives
The okra can be fried in ghee until crispy, then added to the gravy.