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  • Masala Bharwan Bhindi
    Stuffed Okra

    TOOLS: You’ll need a very small mixing bowl; a paring knife; a small spoon; a baking sheet; and a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan with a lid.

    In Indian cooking, “stuffing” vegetables often involves just spices. My Nani (grandmother) made her okra this way—simple and to the point.

    • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • 1 teaspoon amchur (dried mango powder)
    • 1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 40 medium-sized okra pods (about 13 ounces / 350 g)
    • 1–2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • Brown or white basmati rice, Roti, or Naan, for serving
    1. In a very small mixing bowl, combine the turmeric, amchur, red chile powder, and salt, making a masala. Stir until well blended. Set aside.
    2. 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 masala 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.
    3. Hold 1 of the okra pods over the bowl (so you don’t lose any of the spice mixture) and, using a small spoon, drop a few pinches of the masala into the slit. Place the stuffed pod on a baking sheet. Continue until you have finished filling all the pods.
    4. In a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan over medium–low heat, warm the 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 masala 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.
    5. Return the sauté pan to the heat and cook, uncovered and without moving the okra, for 5 minutes. Don’t raise the heat. If it’s any higher, the masala that falls out of the okra will burn, and you’ll make a mess on the bottom of the pan.
    6. 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 masala will spill, but most will cook inside the okra.
    7. Remove the cover and cook for 3 minutes, until any remaining moisture has cooked off. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside for 3 to 5 minutes, allowing the okra to absorb the flavors.
    8. Serve immediately with the brown or white basmati rice, Roti, or Naan. My kids love this dish rolled up in a fresh roti, with a tiny piece of raw onion tucked inside for crunch.

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

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