Fried Bhindi

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Preparation info

  • Serves

    4

    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

A Canon of Vegetables

A Canon of Vegetables

By Raymond Sokolov

Published 2007

  • About

Bhindi is Hindi for okra. I apologize for the rhyme but it is impossible to avoid unless you use one of the other, mostly African names for the plant that have followed its peregrinations around the globe. The main alternative is gumbo, the U.S. Creole reflex of the Angolan Bantu kingombo, which led to quingombo in Portuguese or quimbombό in Cuban Spanish, * or gombo in French.

Fried okra is an idea that belongs to the world. In India, the spice mixture naturalizes the recipe, just as “Southern-fried” okra belongs to the former centers of slave population in the Americas. The best fried okra I have tasted was at a large barbecue restaurant in Raleigh, N.C., where most patrons were black. It came out of the kitchen crisp outside, just barely cooked through inside, and not at all slimy.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons white poppy seeds
  • 3 to 4 dried chiles, trimmed and seeded
  • 6 tablespoons any vegetable oil except olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 pound okra, topped, tailed, and cut in ½-inch rounds
  • Salt
  • Fresh green chiles, chopped

Method

  1. Heat a kadhai or a heavy iron skillet over medium heat and dry-roast the sesame and poppy seeds until brown. Put the seeds along with the dried red chiles in a clean electric coffee grinder and pulverize. Reserve on a plate.
  2. Heat the oil in the kadhai or skillet over medium heat and add the mustard seeds. As the seeds pop add the fenugreek, followed by the garlic. Brown the garlic and then add the okra and salt to taste. Stir and mix thoroughly. Lower the flame, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the reserved ground sesame and poppy seeds and mix well. Remove from the flame and serve with chopped green chiles passed separately.

*Also the name of a dance band specializing in son, a type of Afro-Cuban music.

†There are many other vernacular names, of which bamia in Arabic is the widest spread.

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