RCP: When locavores can't wait for the season

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RCP: When locavores can't wait for the season

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:26 am

Punjabi Bhindi Masala

I love okra, but generally tend to eat it only during late summer and early fall when it's widely available fresh and local. Sometimes craving outweighs a locavore sensibility, though, and when I saw a big packet of crisp, fresh okra at the Highlands Valu Market in Louisville yesterday, thoughts of a good spicy Indian okra ("bhindi") dish overcame my political correctness, and I threw it in my shopping basket.

A bit of recipe-Googling and a little kitchen time later, and we were enjoying a bowl of flavorful Punjabi Bhindi Masala, a simple and spicy dish from far northern India. (The Punjab is a cultural region divided between India and Pakistan when colonial Britain drew boundaries for the new countries before declaring them independent and heading back to Blighty in 1947.)

It's a simple recipe, and a good attitude-adjuster for people who think they hate okra, as the long saute and braise cook all the purported "slime" right out of the vegetable, leaving only okra-ish deliciousness.

Take about a pound of fresh okra, trim the ends, and cut into roughtly 1/2-inch to 1-inch lengths. Chop an onion and mince about a tablespoon of garlic and fresh ginger fine. Make a seasoning mix with about 1 cup of chopped tomatoes (fresh or quality canned), seasoned with salt, black and red pepper, and a little chili powder, good quality curry powder, turmeric and cumin.

In a wok or black-iron skillet, saute the onions in peanut oil or coconut oil until they start to brown. Add the garlic and ginger, stir briefly, and add all the okra. Cook over medium-high heat until the okra is turning brown; then add the tomato-seasoning mix, reduce heat to low, and cook 10-15 minutes or until the okra is well cooked and tender. Add a little water from time to time if the dish seems to be drying out or starting to stick. Check seasoning and serve with hot, steamed basmati rice.
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