The Spotlight is on Okra…With This Okra-Potato Stir Fry.

Okra-Potato Stir Fry

I feel okra gets the short end of the stick in the vegetable world. I wonder why? It is wholesome and delicious and cooks easily…not to mention the long list of health benefits (high in vitamins, iron, calcium and fiber). Okra or Lady fingers or Gumbo (in the southern states of the US) or Bhindi as it is commonly known in India…is cooked in most Indian homes.

As always, preparation and usage styles differ from region to region (bet you are used to me saying that in my posts, dear readers, but India is a big country.) From popular dry preparations like ‘Bhindi masala’ (spicy), Bhindi Amchur’ (with mango powder) and ‘Bharvan Bhindi’ (stuffed)…to okra’s appearance in gravy preparations like Kadhi (yogurt based curry) and Sāmbhar (south Indian style lentil preparation); you will find this worthy vegetable runs through the length and breadth of India’s cuisines.

At our home, we like okra stir fried with Indian spices and potatoes thrown in for good measure (read: for the kids.)

Okra Potato Stir Fry in the pan

Before I reveal my delicious recipe, here are a few tips on handling and cooking Okra.

  • Choosing okra is an art; if you have a choice, check raw okra by breaking off the thin tip end. If it snaps easily, that lot of okra is good.
  • Make sure the vegetable is a beautiful bright green without spots or cuts in it.
  • Wash the okra and completely dry it before you start cutting to avoid the ‘gooey’ mess from the seeds which occurs when okra is wet.
  • While cutting okra, the knife should runs through it smoothly. If you feel a crunchy resistance, throw out that piece or it could lead to a fibrous texture in the dish.
  • Okra cooks fast, so don’t be fooled by the ‘still green’ look. Taste it for your desired bite.
  • If you are going for a dry okra preparation like this recipe and want okra to retain shape; don’t add any water /stock to the preparation and don’t cover it cause steam has the same effect.

Serves 2-4 • Prep Time- 10 minutes • Hands-on cook time- 15 minutes

Okra and potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 lb okra, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium potato, cut into 1 inch cubes and parboiled*
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
½ of a medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic (or 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced)
½ teaspoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon amchur/mango powder (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoon tomato paste
Juice of ½ a lemon (around 1 tablespoon)

Parboiled diced potatoes

*For parboiling the potato, I use a microwave. Cover the raw potato cubes with water in a deep bowl and cook on high for 5-6 minutes. Drain really well and leave aside.

On a medium flame, heat the canola oil in a non-stick skillet. Add cumin seeds and onion to the hot oil, fry for 2-3 minutes till onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. The aromas of the onion and garlic will waft towards you. In Indian cooking, this process is known as roasting the aromatics.

Roasting the aromatics-onion, garlic and cumin seeds

Add the potatoes, okra, dry spices and salt. Stir fry the vegetables and spice for 5 minutes on a high flame. Add tomato paste and toss intermittently for another 5 minutes for the flavors to blend. Switch off the flame and add lemon juice. Serve hot with a cucumber salad and Indian flatbread (chapatti or naan) or bread rolls. Daal, a popular Indian lentil preparation is a great accompaniment to this okra.

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Comments

  1. says

    This is a great recipe! I love okra and Indian cuisine is one of my favorites, right up there with Thai and Italian. One of my favorite Indian dishes stars okra (can not recall the name off hand) and I’ve always wanted to learn how to prepare it at home. I will definitely be trying this recipe. Thank you for posting!

    • says

      Right there with you on okra, one of my absolute favorite vegetables. The Indian dish you are trying to recall might be ‘bhindi masala’ cooked north Indian style or ‘bhindi amchur’ a stuffed okra dish. Both are delightful! Hope you enjoy this simple home-cooked meal. Thanks for visiting!

  2. says

    Okra’s lack of popularity can be summarized in one word: Slime. Tasty, but slimy. But, here are some tips to limit the ooze… 1) Use fresh pods. 2) Keep the pods whole, if possible. 3) If cut up, stir as little as possible. Stirring can break the cells that contain the slime, thus releasing it. 4) Cook as briefly as possible over very high heat. 5) Use either no liquid, or a lot. Liquid draws out the slime, so either use none, or a lot, to dilute the slime. Used in soups or gumbo, the slime dissolves into the liquid and makes a nice thickener. Enjoy.

    • says

      Thanks for posting these tips here, Russ…as I said even Sambhar (south Indian lentil preparations) and kadhi (yogurt based curry) recipes use it for the purpose of thickening in addition to taste:) Your blog is amazing, will be around there for sure.

    • says

      Russ, these are great tips on cooking okra. I’ve used it in gumbos and for frying. I’ve been hesitant to use it in other dishes because of the slime. Although I’m a chef with an adventurous palate, I’m very sensitive to textures, so I’ve always played it safe with okra; high heat or cooked for an extensive period to where the slime turns into a thickener. I’ll definitely keep your tips in mind for the next time I’m cooking with okra. Thank you!

  3. Dhun says

    Hmmm, I’ve never included potatoes!!! We love potatoes in any shape and form in our household, so I’ll definitely add them. Only yesterday I was fancying okra:):) and there you posted this recipe. Keep on blogging—-thanks!!

    • says

      Thanks Masi, you must try the potato angle…its the north Indian touch to to our ‘bheeda’…the stir fry element is my version:) I am a food mind reader, I knew okra was on your mind!

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