Tantalize your tastebuds with this simple spicy okra dish from Nepal! Sliced okra is first flash-fried to banish any trace of slime. The pods are rendered crisp, delightfully chewy, and infused with the warmth of cumin, coriander, and chilis. Try this quick and easy vegan recipe to get a healthy serving of vegetables with any meal.
Nepalis do a lot of simple stir-frys like this. Be it potatoes, lab lab beans, or even chayote. If you see tareko on the menu at any casual eatery in Nepal you can be sure it will be a lightly spiced, fresh, and tasty vegetable side prepared this way. My maid showed me how to make this bhindi tareko or fried okra recipe that she makes quite often at home. It's the easiest, fastest, and most delicious okra dish that even my mutton-crazed Kashmiri family loves. Since this dish has a crisp and chewy texture it's a great way to use those okra pods that are a little past the petite and tender stage and are a bit large and fibrous. We enjoy this as a side dish with rice or rotis. If you're doing the low-carb thing I could see this as a delicious accompaniment to a garam masala spiced grilled chicken breast.
To minimize the dreaded slime that can accompany okra dishes it is advised that the pods be completely dry before slicing. I do this by rinsing them vigorously in a colander and then setting them out in full sun in the backyard to dry outside for at least two hours. It seems to help if the okra gets a little wilty before cutting too. Frying the sliced okra in salted and smoking hot oil really gets rid of any residual stickiness. After about ten minutes of frying any and all slime is absolutely gone. Do not cover the okra while cooking as steam seems to perpetuate sliminess also. Using a shallow, wide pan like a skillet so that the okra can be spread in a single layer help to achieve the crispy edges and aid in slime reduction too. Utilizing a pan with a non-stick finish will allow you to use considerably less oil if desired also. That's all the okra cooking tips I've learned over the years so now it's off to the recipe!
1/2kg/1lb okra, tops and tails removed and sliced into scant half inch rounds
3 TBS cooking oil (or just enough to cover the bottom of your cooking vessel)
2-3 dry red chilis/lal mirch broken in half (omit for less heat)
1 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
2 tsp garlic/lahsun paste
2 tsp ginger/adrakh paste
2 tsp ground cumin/jeera
2 tsp ground coriander/dhania
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
Here's what to do-
1) Heat oil in skillet or kadhai with one teaspoon salt for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and broken red chilis and fry for half a minute.
2) Add chopped okra and stir well to coat all pieces with oil. Allow to fry for 5 minutes uncovered.
3) Add 1 teaspoon salt, garlic paste, ginger paste, ground cumin, ground coriander, and turmeric to frying okra and stir well.
4) Fry for 5-7 minutes more or until the okra becomes crisp. (Don't worry if the okra seems a bit slimy, after about 10 minutes of frying the slime completely disappears.) Salt to taste and serve as an accompaniment to rice or rotis.
You might wish to retrieve the dried red chilis from the dish right before serving. This will minimize the risk of anyone biting into a random fiery hot bit of chili while enjoying their okra. Nepalis and Kashmiris would not remove the chili bits before serving but might toss them aside on their plate when served.