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Bhindi (Okra)

Bhindi

Bhindi (Okra)

The origin of okra (lady finger plant) is disputed where some believe it is from Asia and supporters claim it to be from Egypt. The younger pods of lady fingers okra (Bhindi in Hindi) were eaten in Egypt in 1216 as mentioned by a Spanish Moor. Raw pods are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, thiamin, magnesium and folate. Freshly picked ones can be stored for 3 to 4 days, or it can be bought in sliced or frozen form.

The pods are mucilaginous which makes it slimy when cooked. Some folks do not like this texture and it can be avoided by keeping the freshly cut pieces in the open for some time and adding salt towards the end of the cooking process, or one can soak it in vinegar for half an hour before cooking. Fresh Bhindi okra should not be washed after cutting because water increases the sliminess and stickiness of the vegetable.  It can be pre-cooked roasted or grilled or added to curry dish with acidic ingredients like tamarind or tomatoes to reduce the sliminess.

Fried okra is very popular. It is a crispy delicacy prepared with cornmeal or seasoned flour mixed with spices like cayenne pepper, cumin and chilly. It is made into bhindi curry with tomatoes, smoked paprika and cayenne. It can also be added to a meat curry with mutton, onions, tomatoes and herbs.

Simple bhindi masala is a low-fat version where the stir fry method can be used instead of deep fry to reduce oil intake.

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