In which Bwog Daily Editor Zach van Schouwen gives in to the demands of anonymous commenters and buys a plastic bag full of curry powder.
In a previous edition of Cooking with Bwog, our high esteem for fried okra was called into question by a number of advocates of bhindi. Bhindi is the Hindi word for okra, but also refers to a particular way of cooking it, using curry, masala and yogurt.
Anyway, it wouldn’t be cooking if we didn’t get to act like imperialists. So I promptly co-opted the Indian tradition and made some bhindi myself. It was pretty damn good, anonymous Bwog commenters, I’ll give you some props. My version of the recipe follows, with instructions and a backstory.
First, it’s necessary to cobble together the necessary ingredients. Hopefully, you have a friend with a spice rack, because you’re going to need (1) curry powder, (2) masala, (3) cumin, (4) turmeric, (5) red chili powder, (6) salt. You also need about 15 pieces of okra (go to West Side), peanut oil (vegetable is OK) and a cup or two of plain yogurt.
Curry and masala are hard to find (although you can probably get them at West Side). I couldn’t find them at my neighborhood supermarket, so I took a nice 90-minute stroll to Jackson Heights and bought them at the Cash and Carry, which is probably the least organized supermarket in New York. But cheap! If you can find curry leaves, use them instead of the powder. I couldn’t lay hands on any, because my Hindi is… not so great. (I only know the word for “okra.” It’s “bhindi.”)
Anyway. Go home and get cooking. First up, chop the okra up into nice rings. Keep the crispy tail end, cut off the stub. Coat it with a pinch of cumin and a generous dollop of curry powder, toss it around. Then, churn up the yogurt in the cup until it’s lumpless, and add 1/2 teaspoon each of the masala, turmeric, salt, and chili powder. (I like the masala a lot, so I use a little more.) Set this aside.
Heat the peanut oil (medium heat); once it gets going, toss the okra in. Cover the skillet up, and let it sit for about 10 minutes, shaking it occasionally. The okra will crisp around the edges, but this only makes it better, so just chill out.
Uncover the pan, turn the heat down to low, and stir in the yogurt mixture. Let it cook on low for 5-10 more minutes, stirring ocasionally. If you’re using generic American yogurt (as I did, thanks, Dannon), you might want to drain some of the watery gunk out periodically.
Extract the dry okra from the pan and serve hot. Rice is I guess recommended. I served it with a little extra yogurt on the side, because I am a real wuss for spicy food. Delicious! Just like Mom never made.
Bigger, better pictures of the cooking process—and the mess that is Bwog’s kitchen—can be found here.