Baked Kurkuri Bhindi/Crispy Okra
THEME: #249 MONSOON MUNCHIES
For India, the hype of summer with people going on holidays, enjoying late nights out, street food, ice creams, mango delights all passed by without much celebration this year with the lockdown because of Covid 19. Some states are already experiencing rains while others are waiting for the Monsoon. Monsoon in India equates to hot hot bhajias (pakoras), steaming or roasted corn and garam garam (hot) chai.
Theme this week on FoodieMonday/Bloghop
Archana who blogs at The Mad Scientist’s Kitchen suggested Monsoon food and I was thinking like I really don’t want to fry anything or even make a hot soup as it has been just too hot for the past week or so in Mombasa. We are suppose to be experiencing rains but guess it doesn’t want to come our way. Having said that, one can enjoy Monsoon Food anytime of the year, as nowadays produces are not limited to seasons. Before I go into what I prepared for the theme lets talk a bit more about the Monsoon.
What is Monsoon?
Monsoon is actually the seasonal change in the direction of the prevailing wind which causes a change in the weather of the affected area. The South West wind laden with moisture from the Indian Ocean sweeps across India but cannot pass through the Himalayas. As a result they rise high, lower the temperature and pours down as rain over India. Some parts of India experience rain as the wind sweeps through India before hitting the Himalayas.
My Experience of Monsoon Rain in India
During my studies at Sophia High School Mt. Abu, monsoon meant playing in the rain while the nuns would shout their heads off for us to stay indoors. My first year at the school, I was totally shocked to see so much rain and rain it did. Clothes always remained damp, bedding felt cold, we had to wear hideous black rubber shoes. But the fun part was standing on the slopes and allowing rain water to gush over our feet. There were times when the water around us would be ankle deep.
When my daughter was in college in Bangalore, I decided to stay with her. I remember the day we had to go to Manipal Hospital for some medical tests. When my daughter and I left home, it was bright and sunny. By the time we were ready to leave the hospital, it began pouring. At that time there were no Olas and Ubers! One usually had a few taxi numbers that can be called whenever required. No taxis were available. The main mode of transport if one did not own a car was either the bus or rickshaws. Have you ever tried catching a rickshaw in the rains? Its a total nightmare. We finally got one at double rate. By the time we reached home, we were soaked to the bones! A hot shower followed by hot ginger masala tea was the most comforting.
The worst ever experience of the Monsoon was in Mumbai. My sister in law with my nieces and nephew came to visit my in laws during the Monsoon in 2006. With long holidays being around May June in US she had no choice but to come then. My daughter and I flew down from Bangalore to spend time with them. A 2 bedroom apartment with 7 of us, endless clothes and dishes, with the rains lashing out at the windows, I just couldn’t stand the smell of wet clothes. Shopping in the rains for vegetables and fruits for the family was too much for me, wadding through the dirty rain water everyday. I got the feeling that my feet remained dirty forever. Clothes wouldn’t dry for days and everyone wants dry clothes! Seven people cooped up in the apartment was taking a toll on everyone’s patience.
My dish for the theme – Kurkuri Bhindi/Crispy Okra
As I really didn’t want to fry anything or make soups, my idea for the theme was stuck at masala doodh (Spicy hot milk) which I normally find very comforting whenever I feel cold. Suddenly, remembered that my niece had shared a recipe of kurkuri bhindi from the Dishoom Cookery Book which she had made and shared on Instagram. For those living in London, mention Dishoom and they’ll rattle off a variety of dishes that are associated with India…from pav bhaji to Frankie and Berry Biryanis. Their endeavor is to bring that old Mumbai Irani Cafe feel to the west. The recipe she shared with me was fried…and I didn’t want to fry. So next best thing without an air fryer is to bake. Tried to bake the kurkuri bhindi and they turned out just wonderful. I didn’t follow the Dishoom recipe to the T as I added my own ingredients too. As I love okra with yogurt, I decided to serve them with a yogurt dip.
What is bhindi?
Bhindi is the Hindi name for ladies’ finger, okra, ochro. Known as bhinda in Gujarati this slimy seed pods are widely used in the Sub Indian Continent, Caribbean, Creole and Cajun Cuisines. In India bhindi is commonly prepared either dry or as a curry to serve with flatbreads or rice.
Some ideas how to cook with bhindi/okra/ladies’ finger
- Archana likes to prepare okra with tamarind and jaggery. Check out her Chinch Gula Chi Bhendi Bhaji.
- Bhinda Nu Shaak, a simple stir fried preparation using simple spices is a common dish that I prepare to serve with hot rotis.
- My favorite is to cook okra in a yogurt based curry called Bhinda Ni Kadhi and enjoy with pearl millet flatbread.
- Stuffed Bhindi or Bharelu Shaak, where okra is stuffed with a spicy mixture and then cooked, is my son’s favorite.
- Sujata’s Sarson Bhindi/Okra in Mustard Sauce is a curry that I’d love to prepare as I love mustard.
- Preethi’s Bhindi Masala /Okra Spice Curry is best enjoyed with hot rotis.
Some Monsoon Dishes to enjoy:
- Instant Pot Corn Potato Cheddar Soup
- Makai no Chevdo
- Buttered Masala Sweet Corn
- Spinach and Baby Corn Soup
- Rice vada
- Potato Stuffed Chilli Bhajia
- Panchmel Bhajia
- Green Chilli Bhajia
- Mhogo na bhajia
- Maru Bhajia
- Vatidar Bhajia
- Dakor na gota
Ingredients required for Baked Kurkuri Bhindi/Crispy Okra:
- Okra – ladies’ finger, bhindi, bhinda, select fresh ones and check them for blemishes. Best way to choose tender ones is to try and snap the tail end with your finger. If it breaks easily, then the okra is tender and fresh.
- Chana Flour – also known as chickpea flour, besan and chana nu lot.
- Rice Flour – will add to the crunchiness.
- Carom Seeds – it is believed that carom seeds tend to make digesting okra easy. I just love it for the flavour it adds.
- Turmeric Powder – haldi, hardar
- Red Chilli Powder – add according to your taste. For both the bhindi and the dip.
- Garlic Paste – 2-3 cloves are peeled and crushed
- Ginger Paste – peeled and crushed or grated finely
- Salt – for the okra and the dip
- Lemon Juice – adds not only flavour but makes the okra less slimy
- Oil – to add to the okra mix and also for greasing the baking trays
- Yogurt – for the dip. Use thick plain yogurt. Can use Greek Yogurt.
- Cumin Powder – for the dip
- Sugar – for the dip, its optional
- Gluten free
- Vegan – used a dip of your choice or use vegan yogurt.
- For Satvik friendly kurkuri bhindi, don’t add garlic
Baked Kurkuri Bhindi/Crispy Okra
I’ve tasted the fried version at a wedding party that I’d attended but I must say the baked one is so much better, not greasy at all, healthy and can enjoy them without any guilt as a starter or a snack. The only disadvantage is that you would need lots of baking trays to make a huge quantity and a little help to arrange each sliced bhindi on the tray would be advised.
BAKED KURKURI BHINDI/CRISPY OKRA
- 250 g bhindi/okra
- 2½ tbsp chana flour/chickpea flour/besan
- 2 tbsp rice flour
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- ½ -1 tsp red chilli powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ¼ tsp ajwain, carom seeds
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 -1¼ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
For the Yogurt Dip
- 1 cup thick plain yogurt
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp sugar optional
- ¼ tsp red chilli powder
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- oil for greasing
Preparation of Kurkuri Bhindi/Crispy Okra
- Wash and wipe the bhindi or okra dry with a kitchen towel. Make sure you dry them completely.
- Trim the ends of the bhindi and cut them into quarters lengthwise.
- Put the sliced bhindi in a mixing bowl.
- Add all the ingredients for the for the bhindi or okra.
- Using your hands mix well gently, make sure you don't break the sliced bhindi.
- Let this mixture rest for 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Grease two baking trays with some oil.
- Arrange each coated slice of bhindi in the tray leaving a little space between each slice.
- Put the trays in the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes till the bhindi slices turn golden brown.
- Remove the tray from the oven.
- Tranfer the baked kurkuri bhindi into a serving tray.
Preparation of the Yogurt Dip:
- Mix all the ingredients tranfer to a dip bowl.
- Serve the dip with the kurkuri bhindi.
- You can wash the bhindi or okra at night and leave it spread out on a kitchen towel to dry.
- Add spices according ot your taste.
- If you don't have carom seeds, then omit it.
- For a vegan dip serve the kurkuri bhindi with a green chutney or tamarind date chutney.
- Baking time may vary between 15-25 minutes.
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