Admittedly this is my first foray into cooking okra. But I was inspired by a delicious curry that I ate in Penang. Cautious to not overcook, I quickly pan fried it first, only adding it back to the sauce to heat through before serving. If you like your okra soft, skip the first step and just add it raw at the same time as the tomatoes.
If possible, use young okra that’s still small. Cooking it whole reduces the ‘sliminess’ factor. Don’t forget to clean and dry first if necessary, and trim the stem ends.
Quantities are for two, served with another curry and rice (it goes perfectly with dhal, if you’re having a Meatless Monday or plant-based meal) but can be scaled up to make a bigger dish.
Don’t like spice? See the variation below for a Mediterranean version instead.
Okra in a spicy tomato sauce
1 – 2 tbsp neutral flavoured vegetable oil
1 large handful of okra, whole
1 tsp coriander seeds, dry roasted and ground
½ tsp cumin seeds, dry roasted and ground
1 small onion or 2 shallots, finely chopped
fresh chili, finely chopped – as much or as little as you like
thumb-sized piece of root ginger, finely grated
2 – 3 cloves, garlic crushed
3 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped (remove skins first if you like)
sea salt to taste
If toasting your spices, do so first in a dry pan and grind in a mortar and pestle. You can use coriander and cumin powder, but may need to add a pinch more.
In a heavy based pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. When hot add the okra and toss for a couple of minutes, until colour deepens without browning. Remove and drain on a paper towel.
Add a little more oil to pan and saute´ the onion until translucent. Add the chili, ginger and garlic and stir for a minute before the tomatoes go into the pan. Simmer for around 20 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally. If the mixture starts to dry out add a little water or vegetable stock. If cooking this meal in advance, you can stop at this point and refrigerate the cooked okra and sauce until it’s needed.
Five minutes before serving, bring the tomato mixture back to heat and add the okra. It only needs a couple of minutes to warm through. Taste and add salt if needed.
Sprinkle with fresh coriander leaves if you have them and serve with your favourite curry or dhal, rice and chutney.
Don’t like spicy food?
Use olive oil and follow the same method. Skip the herbs and spices apart from garlic. Add more garlic if you like, and fresh oregano if available. Garnish with torn basil leaves and serve with some fish, meat or tofu.
This recipe is vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free. For more food inspiration, go to the recipe archive.