This morning I decided to make a quickish okra bhaji. The word ‘Bhaji’ is used when the curry is dry, without a gravy.
I’ve been eating okra or lady fingers for over ten years, since I travelled in India. I’ve since loved them as a bhaji and find it’s incredibly simple to get the flavours right, due to their distinct and strong flavour, you need only add subtle additions of spice. Okra are also incredibly good for us, containing high levels of magnesium and the allusive vitamin K (okra is made up roughly of 30% vitamin k).
I fed it to Bean expecting he’d spit it out, but it was received pretty positively. I got very excied at this, plated up. I served with rice and dhal too. I know it’s early for curry, but the Bean is a reluctant eater, partly because he finds it bewildering to stay still, so when he shows enthusiasm, regardless of the time of day, I feed him the food.
What you’ll need to make the bhaji:
- About 2 tbs of mustard seed oil. Mine is from the motherland, #Bangladesh, and it’s really tangy and pungent
- 2-3 cups washed sliced okra (dry these, then sprinkled with salt)
- 1/2 tsp of whole cumin seeds
- half onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp garlic ginger paste
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- additional salt and pepper
+add chilli powder too if you like a kick
Add the mustard seed oil to a frying pan.
Add the cumin seeds once the oil is hot enough (test this by adding one, listen for the crackle).
At this point, you can add long strips of green chilli, skin side down, if you want to add heat. Be cautious if you intend feeding this to your ickle Beans!
Wait for the seeds to crackle, and then add the onions. Fry and continue to stir for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic ginger paste, fry for a further one minute or so.
Add the ground spice and mix well, continuing the stir constantly. This is the important part when cooking with spices: you need to observe the changing smell. The aroma should change and soften during the cooking process. From this point onward you can add the okra. This could take up to 15 minutes, but more likely to take between 5-10 minutes.
Add the okra, coating the okra with the onion mix completely. This will require a good effort to get all the okra completely covered.
Lower the hear from 7/8 to about 3-4, so the it cooks on a low to medium heat. Add the lid and keep covered, returning to give it a stir every 5 minutes or so. If its sticking you can add tiny amounts of water. I personally quite like to charge-grilled taste, as long as its subtle-it’ll add flavour, I promise!
This is a really tasty dish and there are many variations that could be created I am sure. I sometimes enjoy a simple veg bhaji to accompany my dhal, so this is why I made this particular dish this morning.
Try adding peppers, courgettes or even coconut milk? You could also try deep-frying if you’re holding a a more decadent event? Would that work? Who knows- go forth and experiment!