Okra/Bhindi Masala (Vegetarian) Recipe

It's no secret here, but this household loves Indian food. The dishes are always packed with spices and end up being incredibly savory and flavorful.

After eating dinner at the local Indian restaurant where we live, we decided we were going to try and make Okra/Bhindi Masala. I spent more hours than I'd like to share looking for a recipe I wanted to try but none spoke to me.

It was then that I realized I could fry the okra and add the sauce from my favorite home-made Chicken Tikka Masala recipe. It might not be the most authentic/traditional take on the dish, but I absolutely love how it turned out. Jake and I were expecting leftovers to enjoy for later and ended up eating the entire dish!

I hope you enjoy my take on this savory North Indian dish! We love turning into a vegetarian night by adding grilled naan, steamed basmati rice, and baingan bharta (roasted eggplant dish). 

Step 1: Gather/Prep your ingredients

This recipe makes enough sauce for 3 pounds of fresh okra. If you want to fry 1 pound of okra (typically enough for 2-3 people), then I recommend using 1/3 of the sauce.

Step 2: Heat oil and sauté onions for 2-3 minutes. Then add crushed cardamom and red chili peppers, stir for 30 seconds. Add tomato paste, cook for 2-3 minutes.

The original recipe has you put in everything at the same time but I prefer to soften the onions first so that the spices and paste don't burn too quickly.

Step 3: Add remaining spices (garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, garam masala). Stir for 1 minute.

Step 4: Add crushed tomatoes, simmer for 8-10 minutes

Step 5: Add cream, simmer for 35+ minutes

Step 5: In a separate pan, fry chopped okra in hot oil. Drain in a mesh strainer. 

We didn't start our okra prep until the sauce was made to save time.

Step 6: Transfer fried okra to a dish, top with masala sauce to preference.

We used about ⅓ of the of the sauce for 1 pound of fresh okra.

We served this with steamed basmati rice, home-made grilled naan, and baingan bharta (roasted eggplant dish) for a flavorful and savory vegetarian meal!

Step 7: Save leftover sauce in your Souper Cubes™ freezing tray!

Recipe for masala sauce adapted from Alisan Roman at Epicurious

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1lb okra, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 2 tsp. peeled ginger, finely grated
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed (seeds only)
  • ½ tsp. red chili pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil or butter/ghee

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Crush whole-peeled tomatoes in a large bowl with hand, set aside. Alternatively, you can use kitchen sheers and cut up the tomatoes while they're still in the can.
  3. Dice one small- to medium-sized onion. 
  4. Heat olive oil (or ghee if you prefer) in a medium-sized heavy pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 3 minutes until soft. Then add crushed cardamom and red chili pepper flakes, stir for 30 seconds.
  5. Add ¼ cup tomato paste and stir often until tomato paste has darkened.
  6. Add remaining spices (garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin) and cook for 2-3 minutes. The bottom of the pot will begin to brown.
  7. Add crushed tomatoes with juices, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for 8-10 minutes. Stir often and scrap up browned bits from bottom of pot.
  8. Add cream and continue to simmer for 35+ minutes. Stir occasionally.
  9. In a separate pan, heat oil. You will need enough oil to just cover the okra. You can fry the okra in batches so the pan isn't overly crowded. Once okra develops a nice color and crisp, put in a fine mesh strainer over a plate.
  10. Transfer the okra to a dish. For each pound of fresh okra, we used a third of the masala sauce. 
  11. Before serving, stir sauce and fried okra. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve with steamed basmati rice and grilled naan.

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