Bhindi Masala with Yogurt


Normally, when I make bhindi/okra, I end up without much conscious thought with this excellent bhindi-fry with onions which is a beloved staple in our house. On some occasions, however, I blaspheme and experiment with other preparations. Not all these experiments are successful enough to merit repetition. This one, however, has joined the semi-regular repertoire. Where the bhindi-fry with onions is minimalist, with barely any spices used, this has a bit more going on—which is not to say that it is particularly complicated. And what it adds in ingredients it subtracts in prep time for the bhindi. You don’t have to slice it thinly. Instead, just cut off the tops and then cut each pod in half (or into three pieces for particularly long pods). The onions provide the base, the spices the punch and the tomato and yogurt add tang and turn the masala into a sticky coating for the bhindi. And if you cook it in mustard oil it will add a bit more pungency around the edges. It goes very well with rice and dal but is even better with chapatis or parathas.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb bhindi/okra, cut into 2-3 pieces, depending on length of pods
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • The following ground to a coarse powder: 1 tspn coriander seeds, 1/2 tspn zeera/cumin seeds, 1/3 tspn methi/fenugreek seeds, 1/3 tspn black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tspn deggi mirch or mild chilli powder of choice
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree
  • 4 tblspns full-fat yogurt, beaten
  • A big pinch jaggery or dark brown sugar (optional)
  • A big pinch bhaja moshla or garam masala
  • Salt
  • Mustard oil (or neutral oil of choice), 3-4 tblspns

Preparation

  1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat till it just begins to smoke (if using mustard oil) and lower heat to medium. If using other oil, heat over medium heat till it shimmers.
  2. Add the onion and saute for 10 minutes or so, stirring often, till the onion has begun to brown.
  3. Dump in the bhindi, mix thoroughly and saute, stirring constantly till the bhindi has turned a dark, glossy green and begun to shrink.
  4. Add the ground masala, the haldi, chilli powder and the salt, mix in and saute for another minute or two.
  5. Add the tomato, mix in thoroughly and saute, stirring often, till the bhindi is almost done (about 10-12 minutes).
  6. Lower the heat, add the beaten yogurt and mix in thoroughly. Saute for another 5-10 minutes till the bhindi is completely done (softened but nowhere close to coming apart).
  7. Add the jaggery (or dark brown sugar) and bhaja moshla (or garam masala), mix in and stir for another couple of minutes.
  8. Serve with dal and rice or chapatis.

Notes

  1. This is best when not made too hot. I use deggi mirch mostly for colour and let the black pepper bring some mild heat along with some bite from the mustard seed.
  2. A sharp mustard oil is best for this but if you don’t have any, use any neutral oil such as grapeseed or avocado.
  3. If your tomato and yogurt are not too acidic you might leave out the jaggery/dark brown sugar. Taste at that point and see what you think.
  4. For another sticky bhindi masala, try this one.
  5. And to see this one being made, watch this Reel on Instagram.

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