Bhindi (Okra/Ladies Fingers) Bhaji/Sabji
Bhindi, also known as okra or ladies fingers, must be one of the most recognised of Indian vegetables, both by name and by looks. It is universally liked and an easy vegetable to cook. Bhindies shrink a lot during cooking, almost to 1/4th of uncooked amount. You can cook this dish with or without onions. The last two pictures show it without onions. It is lovely even on its own, when served with freshly made, crisp parathas.
Serve 3-4, as part of an Indian meal.
Edited December 2020
500 gm. ladies finger or okra or bhindi
1 onion, peeled and sliced (optional)
20 gm. or 1 heaped tsp. grated ginger
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed or grated (optional)
A couple of fresh red or green chillies sliced. Red ones look nicer.
1 tbsp. cooking oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds or dark mustard seeds Rai
A large pinch of asafoetida or hing/hing (optional)
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1 full tsp. coriander powder
1 full tsp. ground fennel or saunf seeds
1/6 tsp. or less chilli powder
1/2 tsp. dry mango powder or amchoor (you can use pomegranate seed powder or juice of half a lemon)
1/2 tsp. Garam Masala
Salt to taste
Wash and thoroughly dry bhindi. This is important, if they are wet, the curry will become very slimy! You can spread them on a kitchen towel for a few hours to dry properly. You can also give them a rub with the kitchen towel.
Remove and discard the stalk end from each bhindi. If any bhindi appear stringy/hard, discard.
Slice bhindi thinly in either circles or split into halves or slice lengthways.
Chop onion, ginger and garlic finely by hand or in a food processor. I usually slice them roughly.
Heat oil in a wok or karahi.
Add cumin/mustard seeds and hing powder and let the seeds splutter. If using mustard seeds, keep the lid on, because they jump everywhere!
Add grated ginger and garlic.
Stir fry for half a minute on high.
Add onions and fry for a few minutes, until light brown.
Add bhindi and all the spices and salt, stir fry for a few minutes.
Reduce heat to low-medium and cook covered for 15 minutes or so stirring from time to time. Fresh bhindies cook very quickly. DO NOT ADD WATER, it has its own released during cooking, which is more than enough. Water will make them slimy.
Once bhindies are cooked, add garam masala and mango powder/amchoor/a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir fry until all the natural water is evaporated and the bhindies looks shiny with oil.
Optional: For a Gujarati/South Indian flavour, use mustard seeds instead of cumin seeds and add 10-12 curry leaves along with mustard seeds. You can also add 1/2 tsp. sugar towards the end of cooking for Gujarati style.