Bhindi masala, okra curry, okra fry . . . whatever you call it, it isn't super quick. And that's because okra is kind of tricky to cook. These little furry pods take a while to become tender, and then they turn slimy! Getting okra perfectly crispy on the outside while tender on the inside takes time (and oil!). Needless to say, you wouldn't catch me cooking them on any regular weeknight. Until now. Now, I'm super excited to have discovered a trick that just might put okra curry into my monthly dinner rotation. Start crispy. That's it -- that's the trick! Just cut to the chase and start with dried crispy okra. (I use this kind from Trader Joe's, but any dried okra should do.) The brittle, crunchy okra chips will re-hydrate and melt down into your steamy curry sauce, and in about 10 minutes, the resemblance to a bhindi masala that has been stewing for an hour will be uncanny.
2 medium onions
2 tablespoons of oil
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 tablespoon of minced garlic (bottled or fresh)
1 teaspoon of ginger paste or powder
0.5 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of curry powder
0.5 teaspoon of ground cumin powder
1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1.5 teaspoons of salt
1 bag of crispy dried okra (appx. 1.4 oz)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice (bottled or fresh)
1. Chop the onions. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium pot over medium heat for about 45 seconds, then add in the coriander and cumin seeds and cook the spices for about 1 minute. Then add in the onion, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Toss, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.
2. Add in the curry powder, cumin powder, canned tomatoes, and salt. Stir well and smash the tomatoes a bit with a fork or potato smasher, to break up their canny texture. Then, add in the okra (you could just dump them in the pot, as is, or roughly chop them for bite sized pieces that will be easier to eat -- I prefer the latter). Coat the okra completely with the tomato sauce. Cover the pot and let this sauce simmer over low to medium heat for 10-12 minutes or until the okra reaches your desired texture, stirring intermittently.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and the lemon juice.
Serves 2-4. Goes well with plain rice, naan, or bread.