Veggie time. This time slightly fried. I can see the guilty smiles :) It seems to me that whenever I write about veggies, I write about Okras. Trust me I make other stuff too. And one of these days I am going to write about this terrific veggie dish, using tomatoes and eggplants, that can also substitute as pasta sauce. Today, however, I guess its okra time. I hear (from my mother) that as a kid I used to love okras. So the supposed 'love story' continues.
Oh! did you know on the other side of the Atlantic, they have a lovely name for okras? Its called ladies finger. I remember I had quite a tough time in the grocery store the very first day I went shopping for okras in the United states. I could not find them (usually stashed away in the corner) and wanted to find them out desperately. The helper at the grocery had no clue. She had to get the manager and finally we looked through the internet and thats when I knew what Okras were. And they knew what a ladies finger was supposed to be. What a collective relief! BTW I have several such stories up my sleeve :)
Without much ado, lets just get on with it. Basically, its dry frying the okras. What that means is that the okras will be dry and mucous free while frying, without using half a bottle of oil.
Half a pound of okras- fresher and younger the better.
half a cup of all purpose flour
2-3 tbsf of vinegar
1/4 tsp whole nigella. These are black in color.
Alternatively, you can also substitute with 1-2 cloves or 4-5 leaves of basil, chopped up.
2-3 cloves of garlic-minced
4-5 tbsf of extra virgin olive oil. Guys...this is a fry :)
Salt and black pepper to season
Lemon wedges for garnish
The most important trick is before the cooking. Cut the okras into small chunks. Clean, pat dry and sprinkle the vinegar on them and let it sit for 15- 20 mins. Rinse off the vinegar after 20 minutes. This ensures that you have taken the worst of the mucous away. Now put them all in a plastic bag and pour the flour. Shake it really well. Give it all you have. This will give you a layer of crunchiness that is not possible with just the okras alone.
Now heat oil in a non stick skillet. Add the garlic, jalapeno and the nigella ( or cloves). Fry for about 10 secs or till you smell the aroma. Do not add the basil, if you are using them. Put then aside for later. Add the flour coated okras and saute for a minute or so. Lower heat and cover. This will ensure cooking the okras without using a lot of oil. Do this for 15 minutes. Keep checking on the okras every 2-3 minutes and move them around.
Once soft and done (they will look wilted but green), season with salt , pepper and basil ( if you are using them). Garnish with lime.
Serve as an appetizer or side dish to go with soup. Simple and flavorful , but a great addition to your dinner.
Happy eating and healthy living