Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In the Future Try Okra or How About Right Now?

Okra is believed to be native to the Ethiopian Highlands and is related to hollyhocks with yellow flowers and pods that grow pointing upward. It eventually spread to the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and India where the tapering ridged green pods are evocatively called ladies fingers as well as bhindi from the Sanskrit bhinadaka. Okra are a favored vegetable in India where the pods are prepared in many different ways and added to soups, stews, and curries. The okra dish pictured in yesterdays blog was inspired by Seema in Chicago who liked my roasted pumpkin recipe and said she had just cooked frozen okra. I've only cooked with fresh so I had to try--according to her the frozen--not thawed pods cooked up less slimy when added to a hot pan and what ever metaphysical occurance, it seems to work. No water needs to be added as the the melting ice is enough as the pieces of pod thaw in the pan. To make my dish I simply heated some olive oil in a skillet, added one chopped small yellow onion and one large minced garlic clove. I sauted them until soft and tossed in about 2 cups of the frozen okra, and added a little turmeric, lots of cayenne powder, salt to taste and a few pinches of amchoor (green mango powder) and stirred for about 8 minutes until the okra were soft and any liquid was just about dried up. If you don't have green mango powder use a squeeze of lemon to add a slight tartness. At the very end stir in some dried coconut chips or grated fresh coconut from a cracked coconut (more on how to do this in a later post). Serve garnished with fresh chopped cilantro and a cascade of coconut chips. It is good hot or served cold the next day for lunch. In the future when tired of the same old carrots, broccoli and potatoes, okra can add a new taste to your palette. So if you are an okra hater please give it a try. Soon.

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