My son is rarely unpredictable, so when he brought 4 of his friends unannounced one evening for dinner I was both surprised and alarmed.
While they trooped in I reckoned there wasn’t much in stock that could feed four hungry stomachs. I usually cooked in the morning and would keep aside one vegan fare to be had with rotis for three of us in the dinner.
Now that I would have to cook something fresh, my mind shot like a rocket to the vegetables container in the refrigerator. Did I have anything there sufficient to cook for my guests?
I felt as chilled as the refrigerator, but luck smiled on me. It turned out that there were lots of ladies finger or bhindi (or dharosh in Bengali), thanks to my maid who had brought them fresh in the morning from her smallish garden.
What else did I have? Some potatoes for sure and… and nothing else!!
Undaunted (no other choice really) I decided to cook ladies finger. But wait. Did they eat ladies finger? You never knew. Today’s kids were so finicky…!
Fortunately, they didn’t mind ladies finger despite the deeply concerned look my son directed at me.
Armed with the approval off I went to cook ladies finger I promised (to myself) they would devour like they never had it so good.
The script ran exactly I thought it would. I prepared 2 yummy dishes with ladies finger and potato. I call them Ladies Finger Delight, and Masala Bhindi. I also made a fry with small pieces of the vegetable, once again with potato though you can make without it as well.
Lest you feel deprived from my magic, here is a rundown of how to cook them.
Ladies Finger Delight (Bhindi, Okra)
We Bengalis use khus khus (opium seeds) a lot in our dishes without getting intoxicated 🙂 This recipe goes well with steamed rice. Here is my formula of cooking the dish. Try it.
- Take about 300 gms bhindi (small sized), wash thoroughly, leave for some time in a large sieve to drain out water completely. Cut the head and the tail normally and make a slit in the middle.
- Take one table spoon ground nut and one table spoon khus khus, wash in a sieve and soak for about an hour. Take 2 green chilies. Make a paste.
- Pour a little mustard oil in a wok ( preferable non stick ), heat. Add a little aniseed (kalaunji) in to the hot oil, let it splutter for a while till you smell the aroma. Now add crushed garlic (5-6 pods) in to the hot oil, stir and add the ladies fingers.
- Put salt, turmeric (a pinch), one tsp sugar or powder jaggery (good for health), and mix all the contents in the wok and cover. Cook on a slow flame.
- Bhindi cooks fast. When it becomes soft, tender add the ground nut and khus khus paste. Stir for a while and keep on a slow flame, covered. Stir intermittently and cover again. Do not use water in bhindi. When the oil starts flickering on the sides, it is done.
- Add a little raw mustard oil to finish, mix well. Transfer the content in a square dish.
- Split two red chilies (green chilies that turned red) to decorate your dish. Also, finishing this dish with mustard oil and the split chilies adds an extra zing to its taste. Serve with steamed rice.
Masala Bhindi is my all-time favorite. The advantage is you can eat it with rice and dal or chapattis and dal or even snack on it.
How to make it? Here are the steps to follow (after the images).
- Take small similar-sized bhindis according to your requirement. Washing and drying this vegetable before cutting is a must before cooking, because when a cut bhindi comes into contact with water it gets extremely slippery. You can’t even hold it.
- Okay, cut the head and tail and make a slit on the concave side of the bhindi. This is needed to keep the masala more or less intact inside its belly.
- Roast one table spoon jeera (cumin seeds) and 1-2 dry red chilies on a flat pan or tawa.
- Grind it dry in a mixer. Add some salt, turmeric and mango powder (according to your taste). Mix well.
- Now take a flat spatula or spoon, take a little bit of this masala and fill the belly. Do it for all the pieces.
- Next, take a non stick pan. Pour oil according to need. Though, it should be a little more than we normally use for cooking bhindi. Heat the oil and transfer all the bhindis at once.
- Move the pan vigorously by holding it with its handle so that all the pieces are coated with oil. Cover it on a slow flame.
- Let it cook for a while and again move the contents of the pan. When all its sides become brownish, its done. Well almost.
- Love some crispy taste? Then continue cooking it for a little while more – this time uncovered.
- Take off from fire. Serve warm or cold with dal, rice or chapattis.
So there you are.
I am sure you have your own secrets of cooking yummiest dishes with ladies finger. Why not share them below! You may also send your tips to me (preferably with photos) so that I can cover them here in my future articles.