Awesome OKRA

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | FAREEDA KANGA
Published Oct 28, 2018, 12:23 am IST
Updated Oct 28, 2018, 12:23 am IST
Good old bhindi is brimming with health benefits, is versatile in the kitchen, found on the dining table across the country.
Smita Deo, author of Karwar to Kolhapur via Mumbai.
 Smita Deo, author of Karwar to Kolhapur via Mumbai.

Eat your greens” is the common slogan we hear from health experts and often we think of spinach and broccoli. Yet the good old bhindi works just as well as it’s brimming with health benefits and is far more versatile in the kitchen.

This is one veggie found on the dining table across the length and breadth of our country, albeit in different styles and also a favourite in our dabbas.

 

It’s interesting to see how different regions prepare this vegetable  — from the crispy fried Rajasthani bhindi to the bharleli bhindi from Maharashtra and more.

“As a child, bhendi chi bhaji was a delight — cooked in oil, over a normal phodni, and had with varan bhaath or with hot phulkas. Then came the kaap. Rolled in rawa and fried to an exciting crisp. This delightful vegetable has grown with me in my kitchen over the years. I have tried so many different recipes with it, and it’s something that we as a family, never get tired of. And trust me, bhindi tastes divine, even in a curry form! Yes, even when soft and gooey!” says Smita Deo, author of the bestselling cookbook Karwar to Kolhapur Via Mumbai.

A herbaceous plant from the tropics, Okra belongs to the mallow family and is truly versatile in the kitchen as the textures can be manipulated depending on the cooking styles. The pods are usually plucked while they are green, tender, and at the immature stage. This plant is widely cultivated throughout warm temperate regions for its phytonutrient-rich pods. It grows best in a well-drained and manure rich soil.

SELECTION AND STORAGE

Choose bright green, fresh-looking pods — look for firm, slim and slightly tender pods and avoid those with over-ripen, sunken, discoloured, spots, cuts, and mushy textures. If the pods are smooth it indicates presence of fewer seeds. Ensure they are without holes as that could mean presence of worms inside.

Once at home, eat them while they are fresh to obtain full benefit of vitamins and antioxidants. They may also stay well for 1-2 days when placed in the refrigerator.

WHY OKRA IS SLIMY?

The slimy goop in okra (and aloe vera) is a result of mucilage, that is essentially sugar residue called exopolysacharrides and proteins called glycoproteins. Mucilage’s viscosity increases when heat is applied. To avoid Okra from getting into a gooey slump, here’s what you need to do.

It’s critical to wash Okra, firstly to get rid of any dirt or chemicals still stuck to the skin. But what’s more important is to dry it well before cooking. Wash uncut Okra under running water, and then pat dry with cloth towel before cutting. This ensures you have non-slimy Okra. Make sure your hands, the knife and chopping board are dry as any contact with water causes the fluid to ooze. Experts suggest cooking it without a lid and adding salt at the end.

Bhendi chi amti (okra curry)

ingredients
400 gm okra, stem chopped off and cut 1” long
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 green chillies slit (depending on the spice you like, but this curry is slightly mild)
1 cup coconut
A cherry-sized tamarind
Salt to taste
 
method
Grind the coconut with the tamarind to a fine paste.
Heat a kadai with the oil and splutter cumin seeds, add chillies, then add okra and sauté for a few seconds.
Add coconut paste and ½ litre of water and salt, cook till the bhindi is done.
Serve hot with steamed rice.

a

HEALTH BENEFITS OF OKRA

1 High fibre content: The dietary fibre content of Okra is known to be high, and hence, many health specialists recommend it for digestive benefits. The fibres aid the process of digestion in the body by facilitating proper bowel movement.

2 Prevents Diabetes: Okra is known to aid in the prevention of diabetes. It is rich in fibre that helps in the prevention of this disease.

How to Use
The best way to use okra for controlling diabetes is with the use of Okra water. Following are the steps to prepare okra water:
Take two Okra pods and cut off their ends.
The sticky liquid will ooze out once you slit the pod. Do not wash it. Take a glass full of water and drop these pods into it at night and cover with a dish. In the morning, take out the pods and drink the water in the glass.
“You have to prepare okra water daily and drink daily in the morning to control your raised blood sugar level. It is important to note that okra water helps cure diabetes much better than cooked okras. It is fine to add okra to your curries and soups but take raw okra soaked in water for faster recovery from raised blood sugar levels,” suggests Dr Siddhant Bhargava, co-founder, fitness and nutritional scientist, Food Darzee, a health and nutrition company.

3 Good Folate Content: The folates present in okra reduce neural tube defects in a newborn baby. So, it is highly recommended for women during pre-conception or pregnancy.

4 Vitamin K benefits: Vitamin K is a co-factor in the blood-clotting process. It also plays a major role in strengthening the bones in our body.

5 Controls Asthma: Asthma can also be treated by including Okra in your meals. People diagnosed with asthma are strongly suggested to consume okra.

Bhendi ka shorba

ingredients

½ kg mutton
250 gm okra
4 medium onions sliced
3 tbsp thick tamarind paste
1 tsp ginger and garlic paste each
1 tbsp chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
¼ cup yogurt
¼ tsp garam masala
¼ cup freshly chopped coriander
¼ cup oil
Salt to taste

method

Heat the oil and fry the okra lightly and keep aside.
In the same oil add the sliced onions and fry them golden.
 Then add the ginger and garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes off.
Add the turmeric and chilli powder and add the mutton and fry till the oil separates.
Add 1 cup water and cook till the mutton is done.
Then add beaten yogurt, tamarind paste and okra and mix well.
Add a cup of water if needed, sprinkle the garam masala powder and cook on a low flame for 10-12 minutes.
Serve this soupy dish with steamed rice or some warm soft bread.

a

Bhendi chi kaap

ingredients

250 gm okra, stem chopped and cut lengthwise and kept in a bowl of water
¼ cup rice flour
½ cup semolina (rawa)
1 tbsp chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Oil for shallow frying
 
method

In a bowl mix rice four, semolina, chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt.
Remove the okra from the water and coat it with the above mixture and keep aside.
Heat a pan with 5-6 tbsp of oil and place the rice flour and semolina coated okra on the pan and fry them crisp on one side (which should take 3-4 minutes) on a medium flame and then turn them and fry them on the other side again for 3-4 minutes or till the kaap are fried crisp and the bhendi is cooked as well.

a

...




ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT