22 February 2013

Indian Stir Fry with Okra

I bought a bag of frozen okra because it was there, and because I thought, "I like okra, so why don't I ever eat okra?".  Then it sat in the freezer so long that I started to get scared--should I eat it?  What is frozen okra like?  Will the sliminess make me puke when I'm cooking it?  And I also recalled that I've never had it prepared in a healthy way in my life--just as a fried side in Southern restaurants.  But I am cheap and I was determined to make good on the $1.99 + tax I paid for it.  And that's when it occurred to me that it isn't just Dixie natives who eat the stuff, it's people living in hot climes all over the world.  In particular, it shows up in Indian dishes.  They, too, seem to relegate okra to a side item, but why couldn't it be quickly stir fried on a busy weeknight?  And why couldn't a stir fry involve Indian, rather than Chinese, flavors?  

Indian Stir Fry with Okra

Serves 4

1 tablespoon peanut oil
½ yellow onion, diced
½ small Serrano pepper, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ lb. okra, trimmed and cut into ½-inch rings (frozen is also fine)
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup cooked chick peas
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Crushed peanuts for garnish

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the peanut oil and saut√© the onion until it starts to get soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the Serrano pepper, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, and cumin seeds and continue to cook until seeds begin to sputter, about 4 minutes.  Add the okra and cook until it begins to brown, about 8 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes, curry powder, turmeric, chili powder, and about a teaspoon of salt.  Lower to medium heat, cover, and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add cilantro, chick peas, and salt and pepper to taste.  Combine thoroughly and serve over basmati rice with crushed peanuts on the side to pour over the top.