If you hate okra, I’m not sure we can be friends. In our extended family, this smoky, crispy Bhindi Masala Fry is an iconic, clamored-after dish. When I was little, it was only made on special occasions, or when I was on my best behavior. It was a treat! I only recently found out that there are people out there who have only tried okra deep-fried (which is, of course, delicious, but must we deep-fry everything?), or who just really don’t like okra because of its slimy texture. Herein lies the beauty of this recipe—you end up doing something close to dry-frying the okra, which dissolves any slimy texture and leaves you with slightly charred, flavor-packed little morsels. Also, AJWAIN: I’m pretty sure this oregano-like spice exists almost exclusively for okra. The pairing is truly supernatural.
Ingredients for 2 to 4 Serves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ajwain seeds
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- Pinch of asafetida (optional, but really great)
- 1 small green chile or serrano chile, finely chopped
- One 12-ounce package frozen sliced okra (see Tip, below)
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander (freshly ground is best)
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
- ½ teaspoon amchur (dry mango powder)
How to make Bhindi Masala Fry
- In a large, shallow pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the ajwain seeds and cook until they turn golden brown, about 1 minute. Swirl in the turmeric and asafetida (if using), then add the chile. Increase the heat to high and toss in the okra, coriander, and fennel seeds. Stir gently using a flat spatula (you don’t want the okra to become mush).
- Reduce the heat to medium, spread the okra in an even layer in the pan, and cook for about 10 minutes, flipping the okra pieces about halfway through so that both sides brown (a good way to flip the okra pieces without mashing them is to move the pan around in a circular motion). The okra may look gummy at first, and that’s okay! Eventually, it will start to char.
- Add the salt and cook for 5 minutes more—the okra should turn a dark shade of green and be lightly charred. Reduce the heat to low, add the amchur, and mix gently. Taste and adjust the salt if needed before serving.
- Serve this Bhindi Masala Fry with rice or roti. I hope you will love it.
Chef tip: Okra in ½- to 1-inch pieces works best. And fresh okra is fine, but we prefer frozen because it’s faster!