Why don't more people here in the US like okra? It's such a tasty vegetable. It has so much personality; it's so sturdy and quirky. Growing up, I only ever tasted it fried (that's how we roll down South, you know), and then later I got into making this Martha Stewart version that was stewed with tomatoes. But now that I eat so much Indian food, the stewed version tastes "dead," as my husband would say. Not enough masala. V loves a version of okra that's covered in spices and besan and then fried, but I like to do bhindi masala because it's healthier.
We were going to be teaching an Indian cooking class tomorrow but it got canceled because there aren't enough people in town during the summer who sign up for classes. The class is going to be rescheduled for the fall, but we'll have to change the menu because I'm trying to teach seasonal recipes with ingredients that can be found locally. That means that we won't be teaching bhindi masala this year. However, I can post the recipe here!
Our local international grocery has locally-grown veggies, and the okra is gorgeous right now. We've made it twice recently. Make sure you buy okra that's firm and unblemished. You can find it at regular grocery stores at exorbitant prices (seriously--I saw it for 4.00 a pound the other day), so I recommend an international grocery. Also, don't use frozen. It gets slimy and it doesn't taste as good.
1 pound fresh okra, washed, dried, stem end cut off, and cut in half lengthwise
2 tbs olive or vegetable oil
1 large onion, very finely diced (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 small green chile, minced (optional)
3/4 - 1 tsp red chile powder, or to taste
1 tsp khatai (dried mango powder)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
kosher salt, to taste
14 ounces tomato puree, or equivalent amount of finely diced fresh tomato
1 tbs garam masala
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil and then add the onions. Cook until the onions are light golden-brown and translucent. Add the green chile and stir for a minute. Add the red chile, khatai, coriander, turmeric, and salt and stir for a minute so the spices can blend with the onion and get toasty.
Lower the heat to medium and pour in the tomato and stir to blend. Cook for a few minutes so that the gravy thickens. You can add a half cup or so of water, then stir and cook a little while longer until it thickens a little again--I think this helps the flavors become more intense.
Stir the okra into the gravy, then put a lid on the skillet and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the okra is tender. Add the garam masala and stir to blend, then serve the bhindi hot with chapatis or rice.