Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bhindi Bucantini

Many shy away from okra because of the "gooey" substance it secrets in it's cooked state, however, this secretion is what makes okra so valuable as natural roux; used to thicken soups, curries, and stews - most notably in the U.S., GUMBO.

The "goo" factor can be significantly reduced with a few tricks:

  • Pair the okra with acidic ingredients; LIME and TOMATO make a great team.
  • Cook the okra pods whole; if the cell walls are not broken the "goo" won't seep out.
  • When using cut okra, saute over medium heat until most of the "goo" evaporates.
  • Don't be so fussy! People have been living off of this Mesopotamian staple for MANY moons, it's NOT that bad!

Spiced Okra

2 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp old bay seasoning
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 hot chili, chopped
1/2 # okra, blanched, halved lengthwise
1 TBS flour
1 small onion, sliced
1/2 cup tomato puree
lime juice and fresh cilantro to garnish

  1. combine ground coriander, cumin, old bay, chipotle, garlic and chopped chili with enough water to form a smooth paste. reserve.
  2. toss blanched okra in flour, reserve.
  3. saute onions over medium-high heat until limp; about 3-5 minutes.
  4. add okra and spice paste to onions, cook until fragrant; about 2 minutes.
  5. add tomato puree and simmer until it coats the okra to your liking. season with lime juice and freshly chopped cilantro.

This dish is great as a side, served with lamb or chicken and a big piece of whole wheat pita. if you are gunning for a main dish, try tossing some okra together with a handful of freshly cooked pasta, i used bucantini. thin with some pasta water and garnish with a lil' olive oil, lime juice and fresh herbs.

© 2008 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -