This Fried Okra with Lime and Chilli will make a believer out of you – no slime in sight! Okra has such an undeserved bad rep, just as much for its infamous gooey insides as its bland, almost negligible flavour. I must confess to being a huge fan of it though, however it is cooked, whether with lots of spices to enhance its naturally mild constitution or with just a few ingredients so its natural woody, grassy flavour can be enjoyed to the fullest, as in today’s recipe.
Where does okra come from? That is a bit of a contentious issue, with South Asians and East and West Africans laying claim to its origin. Suffice it to say though that it is very popular in the cuisines of these countries as well as in Middle Eastern and Southern American cooking.
A vegetable by any other name, I grew up calling it lady’s fingers, bhindi or okra, interchangeably, depending on who I was talking to!
So how does one cook okra without it getting all gooey?
Well, that rather depends on the dish you’re cooking itself. Certain dishes rely on okra’s sticky insides to thicken stews and soups, such as in the world renowned gumbo. If you’d like to use it in curries, dals and stews without the stickiness, the best thing to do is to leave the okra whole, that way none of the mucilaginous content has a chance to get released. This is not a full proof method though, as the okra cooks and softens, it does have a tendency to split.
Today’s recipe, Fried Okra, gives you a dry, goo-less end product. There are 2 key elements involved if you would like a slime free okra dish:
- Make sure that the okra is dry, very dry, before you cut it and most certainly, before you cook it. Moisture encourages the spread of the characteristic goo.
- Cook it on high heat, this will cook off any remaining moisture and sticky liquid.
This Fried Okra with Lime and Chilli is quick to cook and has a very subtle flavour, it makes the perfect accompaniment to stronger flavoured rice, curries or dal.
Look for the bright green, firm ones. These are the younger, fresher okra and will have less tendency to split when cooking whole. Stay well away from the khaki green coloured ones and most certainly, leave those with obvious black, brown or grey streaks.
Are you a fan of okra? What’s your favourite way of having it?
- 12 okras
- 1 small onion or 2 shallots, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
- 1 - 2 red chillies, sliced
- quarter tsp of salt or to taste
- juice of half a lime
- a few stalk fresh coriander(cilantro), chopped
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- Slice the okra up at an angle into bite sized pieces.
- Heat the oil up in a large frying pan on medium high heat.
- Cook the onions for about a minute.
- Toss in the chilli and garlic and fry for on about 30 seconds.
- Add the okra and salt in and stir it all up to mix. Keep frying and stirring for about 5 minutes until okra is cooked.
- The okra will start getting burnt and crispy at the edges, that's the effect we want.
- When the okra is done, add the lime juice and cook for another 30-60 seconds to burn off the juice.
- Take off heat, scatter with chopped coriander (cilantro) and serve immediately.