July 2, 2012
We had scheduled a cooking party way in advance; Ruthie offered to host, Sharon to bring the okra, and me to teach them how to make my mom’s version of bhindi masala, okra stuffed with spices and pan-fried.
There was also a crockpot of daal, a jar of basmati rice-for-the-making, and fresh yogurt, whose cooling properties balance nicely with the spicy okra.
After hugs, flirting with Ruthie’s three-month-old (who supervised the proceedings from his bouncy chair on the kitchen counter), and catching up, we were ready to settle in and cook up a storm. I checked my phone, planning to put it away, and lo and behold—I read an email that had me make this face:
What kind of email could cause me to grin like a dork? Why, an email from our adoption agency, of course, saying that we had matched with a birth mother and that we would, if all goes well, have a baby in our lives between now and July 26th.
A bhindi baby!
In the midst of excitement and phone calls, we still managed to make and eat some spicy okra, which I’d like to share with you today. Given that we could become parents any day now, I’m not sure how often I will be able to update the blog in the coming weeks; I know y’all will understand this best-of-all-possible-reasons for any long silences. We feel incredibly blessed and are beyond thrilled!
BHINDI MASALA, MY MOM’S WAY
For this recipe, choose the most tender okra you can find. Also, longer pods are better, as they will be easier to stuff.
20 okra pods (you can absolutely make this recipe with more okra, you will just need to bump up the amount of spices as well)
6 T ground coriander
6 T ground cumin
3 T amchur powder*
2 T garlic powder
1 T salt (you will be adding more salt at the end)
1-2 tsp. cayenne (depending on your desired level of heat)
Rinse the okra and pat dry. Use a small, sharp knife to trim both ends. Then, very carefully, use the same knife to make a slit in each okra pod; you do not want to cut the pod in half, you are basically making a pocket to hold the spices.
When all of the okra are ready, stir all of your spices together. Slowly pour in 2 T of oil and stir to make a paste, adding up to another tablespoon if necessary.
It’s optional but recommended to wear gloves at this point! Heat an inch of vegetable oil in your heaviest skillet (cast iron is great) over medium-high. Let it heat up while you stuff the okra.
With your fingers, gently pry the “pocket” open wide enough to stuff a bit of the spice mixture inside. Wipe off any excess. Repeat until all of the pods have been stuffed.
Pan fry the okra a few at a time, being sure not to crowd the skillet. The okra and spices will sputter and bubble, and should brown quickly. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, then remove to a paper-towel-lined cookie sheet. If you are cooking a large batch, keep the cookie sheet in a low oven while you finish the rest.
Sprinkle the cooked okra with salt to taste, and serve with plain yogurt on the side.