Okra is one of the most overlooked vegetables. That’s too bad since this green produce is loaded with health benefits: its high fiber content helps stabilize blood sugar, is rich in Vitamin A and potassium, and, like most vegetables, is low in calories. A cup of raw okra comes in around 33 calories. It’s used in African cuisine, in Southern dishes and is also popular in Indian food. It’s available in the frozen vegetable aisle at many grocery stores. I admit that unless my mother or my mother-in-law in India made me okra subzi, I never ate it, but one day last week, I was walking by the vegetable and fruit stand on 59th and 2nd and noticed the vendor selling fresh okra. Once I saw it, I couldn’t stop craving it so I bought a pound and Tess and I experimented and came up with this delicious recipe. Give it a try! ~Shivani
1 pound of okra, each piece cut into three pieces (frozen okra is usually precut)
1 tablespoon of punch pudan (a Bengali five-spice mix of mustard, nigella, fenugreek, fennel and cumin seeds. Make it yourself, buy it from any Indian store or online from Kalustyan’s).
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of cumin powder
1 teaspoon of coriander powder
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of canola oil
salt and pepper, to taste
one large handful of cilantro, finely chopped (optional)
Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet or pan set to medium.
Add spices and fry for one minute.
Add 1/4 cup water and bring to a boil.
Add okra and season with salt and pepper.
Cover pan and cook for five minutes. Turn off stove and let sit for an additional five minutes still covered.
Top with cilantro, if using.
Try with brown rice and lentils for a complete meal or alongside a whole-wheat pita and a simple piece of grilled tilapia with tandoori spice or salt and pepper.