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  • Besan Bharwan Bhindi
    Okra Stuffed with Chickpea Flour

    YIELD: 6–8 SERVINGS
    TOOLS: You’ll need a paring knife; a large, deep mixing bowl; a small frying pan; a small spoon; a baking sheet; and a heavy-bottomed, 6-quart / 6-L sauté pan with a lid.

    A common take on okra in Rajasthani cuisine, this dish is just plain addictive. The first time I made it, the pods literally disappeared in minutes. The earthy combination of chickpea flour with the spices and okra is delicious—and worth the extra prep time.

    • 70 medium-sized okra pods (about 1¼ pounds / 580 g)
    • 2 heaping tablespoons besan (gram or chickpea flour), sifted
    • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
    • 1 tablespoon amchur (dried mango powder)
    • 1 teaspoon dried ginger powder
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • 1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 5 tablespoons /75 mL vegetable oil, divided
    • Brown or white basmati rice, Roti, or Naan, for serving
    1. Wash the okra thoroughly and dry it with a dish cloth. This step is critical—drying the okra helps prevent sliminess later. Trim off the stem end of the okra and, with a paring knife, slit the okra lengthwise from end to end, being careful not to cut all the way through. Each okra pod should have a slit on 1 side but should remain intact on the other side. You are not cutting the okra into separate pieces. Rather, you are making a slit just big enough to pry it open slightly and drop the besan mixture inside. Some okra may split apart completely, and that’s okay. Just rub the inside with the filling and place the pod in the pan along with the others. The goal is to keep most pods intact. Always remember, the smaller and fresher the okra, the better.
    2. In a large, deep mixing bowl, combine the besan, coriander, amchur, ginger powder, turmeric, red chile powder, and salt and stir well.
    3. In a small frying pan over medium–high heat, warm 3 tablespoons / 45 mL of the oil. Once it is hot, remove from the heat and pour it into the spiced besan mixture. Stir well, until all the ingredients come together and the mixture forms a paste. It may not look like it’s going to be enough to fill all of the okra pods, but trust me—it will be. You need just a little filling in each pod.
    4. Hold 1 of the okra pods over the bowl (so you don’t lose any of the besan mixture) and, using a small spoon, place a small amount of the besan mixture into the slit. Place the stuffed pod on a baking sheet. Continue until you have finished filling all the pods.
    5. In a heavy-bottomed, 6-quart /6-L sauté pan over medium–low heat, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil is hot, remove from the heat and carefully place each okra pod, slit side up, in the pan in a single layer. It helps to pull the pan from the hot burner for this step because it takes time and you want the okra to cook evenly. If any besan mixture is left in the bowl, sprinkle it over the okra. It’s okay if you don’t have enough room for all the okra to be in a single layer; simply place some pods on top of others.
    6. Return the sauté pan to medium–low heat and cook, uncovered and without moving the okra, for 5 minutes. If the heat is any higher, the besan mixture that falls out of the okra will burn, and you’ll make a mess on the bottom of the pan.
    7. Stir the pods gently and then place the lid on the sauté pan slightly ajar. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. At this point, it’s okay if the okra pieces get turned around. Some of the besan mixture will spill, but most will cook inside the okra.
    8. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 4 minutes. Stir well. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside for 5 minutes, allowing the okra to absorb the flavors.
    9. Serve immediately with the brown or white basmati rice, Roti, or Naan.

Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.

© 2016 Alta Editions LLC.