Bhindi Masala

Original recipe: Aug 21 2012, Updated recipe: Apr 15 2015.

Bhindi masala is a popular Indian side made of okras/lady’s finger cooked in onion-tomato paste and spices. This creamy okra dish is one another dish featured prominently in all Indian restaurant menu.

There are many recipes and versions of this curry, the common ingredient is Okra. My version probably looks like many other recipes you may have come across, but this is the one that I’ve made my own, prefer the texture of cubed onions and tomatoes at the end and love the addition of creamy and kasoori methi, besides having a richer, more satisfying flavor, gives a restaurant feel at home.

To clean and cut Okras to avoid slimy curry:

Wash and lay the okra in a single layer and let them dry or use a kitchen towel and wipe dry, otherwise it will become mushy/slimy while cooking. Cut the tops and tip-off.

For this sabji (curry) I prefer using tiny variety of okras (approx 2 or 3″ long) but it they are longer than that, cut them into halves. Split them vertically till the edge but do not cut all the way through the okra, it has to be one whole piece . This will help them cook evenly inside and outside, also if  cut too deep, there are chances that the okra will be split in halves while cooking.

Because the okra gets double-cooked, once fried in oil and again simmered in the sauce, it loses its slimness.

The Ingredients:

½ lb fresh, small and tender Okra (about 20)
Oil for deep-frying or 4 Tbsp of oil for shallow frying
1 Large Red onion finely chopped
1/4 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp of ginger-garlic paste
1/4 tsp of Turmeric powder
1/2-1 tsp of chilli powder (to taste)
1.5 tsp Cumin-coriander powder
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 medium Tomatoes (juicy variety)
1 tsp of garam masala
Dried fenugreek leaves|Kasoori methi
Salt -To Taste
Cilantro – to garnish
1/3 cup of fresh cream
1/4 cup Onion and tomatoes – cut in cubes (optional)

Bhindi Masala:

There are two options: either you can deep fry the okras or shallow fry.

The first step is to fry the okra and then prepare a masala and later add fried okras to the masala.

In a Pan, heat the 4 tbsp of oil for shallow frying or a pot full of oil for deep-frying.

Fry the Okras in the oil that is hot with a bit of salt that will help the vegetable cook faster as well bring out the flavor more. Once it has highlights of brown, its time to take it out of the oil.

For masala: In 2 tbsp hot oil, add the finely chopped onions, sugar and 1/4 tsp of salt. Sugar will help in caramelizing the onion, that will taste good as well give a reddish shade. The little salt is for cooking the onions faster. Add ginger-garlic paste to onion mixture.

As the onions are cooking, add all the dry spices: Turmeric powder, chilli powder (to taste) and cumin-coriander powder. Mix all well and add tomato paste and chopped tomatoes (Use a juicy variety of tomato for this recipe but if you don’t have juicy type tomatoes, roughly purée)

Once the tomatoes have cooked or the oil starts to separate, add little water and bring it to a gravy/sauce consistency. Sprinkle garam masala and crushed dried kasoori methi.

Add the fried Okras. Add salt – to taste. Sprinkle chopped cilantro|coriander leaves.

I take this home-style sabzi to the next level when I have guest or any special occasion by adding the optional ingredients: fresh cream and chopped onions and tomatoes, sauteed in a tsp of oil for few minutes.

Happy Cooking