Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stuffed Okra - Story of an Ogre turning into a Prince(ss) charming

What is green all over and slimy? If you thought I was talking about Ogres in general or Shrek in particular, you are way off track. I am here to talk about one of my favorite vegetables which in its unprocessed or under processed form resembles slimy green ogres very much :-).

Stuffed okra is a Gujarati recipe which I had seen in a Tarla Dalal book but had put off making. Sometimes when I see a recipe in a book/magazine/show,  I deliberate on it unless it is love at first sight convincing myself it is the right choice for me and my family in terms of the ingredients. Also with books and magazines, sometimes I feel distant from the original cook as I do not know them and do not relate them to real people. But if I taste something or someone cooks it and talks about it, I go hook, line and sinker.  I know, my brain is weird that way :-).  Back to the stuffed okra, I recently saw the recipe here and then googled it some more to confirm people were infact making it at home and gave it a shot in my kitchen. Boy, I am glad I did. Simple ingredients, fresh, tender okra turns this into a mouth watering dish with your rice or roti. We had ours with rice and rasam.

When I posted my Bendekayi gojju earlier, I mentioned a few tips to create a slime free okra dish. Okra or ladies finger or bendekayi requires a tart acidic substance like tomato or tamarind or yogurt or even dry mango powder and some TLC in the form of slow roasting and avoiding extra mixing to let go of its sliminess. Remember to follow these and you will be pleasantly surprised with the versatility of Okra.

And a side note on Ogres, I love the Shrek series - Shrek, Fiona and Donkey and all the other characters not just for the great animation but for the fact that the movie and the book do not change Shrek or Fiona's physical appearances for a happy ending. They remain ogres and not turn into the stereo typical good looking girl and handsome boy before living happily ever after. I love that kind of ending:-)

Here is the recipe for a Gujarati Bhindi Sambhariya - a yummy stuffed ladies finger dish.
What do you need to make stuffed okra? 
20-25 tender, fresh okra (increase or decrease this quantity based on the # of people you are planning to feed)
1/2 cup grated coconut - fresh or frozen
1/2 peanuts
1 Tblsp white sesame seeds
1 Tsp coriander cumin powder (I used store bought, make fresh if you prefer)
1 Tsp amchoor (dry mango) powder
4-5 green chilies
2 inches fresh ginger root
1 Tblsp salt
5-6 stalks of fresh cilantro - chopped fine
1 Tsp sugar
1 Tblsp cooking oil

Others - patience, do not attempt this if you are in a hurry, stuffing okra takes time
How do you make stuffed okra? 
  • Wash, pat dry okra, remove the stubby end and slit it length wise ensuring the okra remains whole with just enough opening for stuffing.
  • Roast the peanuts (see notes below), let cool, make it into a coarse powder by pulsing it in your blender. 
  • Pound green chilies and ginger in a mortar and pestle into a coarse paste.
  • Mix grated coconut, peanut powder, amchoor, coriander-cumin powder, salt, sugar, sesame seeds and chopped cilantro in a bowl. 
  • Mix in green chilies-ginger paste. Check and adjust salt, sugar or spices. 
  • Stuff this mixture into slit okras, work the stuffing into the tips of the okra where sliminess is more. 
  • Heat oil in a wide, flat pan, load the stuffed okras stuffed side up and preferably in a single layer and cook it open for 5-7 minutes on medium heat. 
  • Slowly turn the okras over and cook the other side for another 5-7 minutes. 
  • When okras turn soft and wilt a little and the color changes to darker green, switch off. 
  • Serve it warm with rice or rotis. 
  • You can pan roast peanuts until the outer skin turns light brown and you hear small pop sounds or alternatively you can put them in a  single layer in a microwave safe plate and microwave them for 5-6 minutes mixing them after every minute and half. 
  • The original recipe mentioned garam masala which I didn't use. 
  • Select small (1-1.5 inch), tender okras for this recipe.
  • When you mix in the ingredients for stuffing, the moisture from coconut, chilies-ginger paste and peanut powder is sufficient to make it binding, do not add water. 
  • Avoid mixing or turning over okras too much, they need to cook slowly and left to themselves they cook beautifully, just maintain heat on medium or lower. 
  • While okra renders itself well in curries, by itself it is bland. Make sure you really stuff the okras to get delicious Bhindi Sambhariya. 
  • If you do not like coconut too much, increase the amount of peanuts.


NamsVeni Pothas said...

stuffed okra looks very tasty and goes with rice only i think. for rotis it is too dry.

Spice up the Curry said...

okra looks yummy

hemalata said...

Yummy stuffed okra.