Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bhindi Masala – Stuffed okra cooked in thick gravy and spices

Okra, Vendekkai, Lady Finger –doesn’t matter what you call it, it will always be a top vegetable in our score card. We usually make the traditional Vendekkai Curry, Vendekkai Sambar, Vendekkai Vatha Kuzhambu, Iru Puli Kuzhambu or Vendekkai Pachadi.I was asking Mum to suggest some new Okra recipe and she reminded me of this stuffed dish I used to make in India every now and then which was a favourite at home.

So while grocery shopping, I picked some fresh, slim and tall okra – not as great as the Indian variety, but slightly close (the American cousins of Vendekkai are short, stout and hard mostly – they do not form a perfect star when cut). I picked them up, about 30 pieces, with the only intention of making stuffed bhindi masala.

This is a dish that goes real well with Rotis and Rice, and for people like me it’s perfect even to snack on without accompaniments. With a microwave oven, this dish gets downright easy to prepare. I used to make a slightly different version at home in India which was stuffed and cooked till they turned crispy. Either ways, the stuffing is precooked. This method is slightly adapted from the Podi Idicha Kathirikai and Bhagara Baingan recipes.

Here’s what I needed:

For the base dish –
1. Okra - About 30 fresh pieces, ends trimmed and partially slit lengthwise

2. Onion – 1 medium sized, sliced finely

3. Tomatoes – 2, chopped finely

4. Garlic – 4 cloves, minced

5. Green Chili – 5 small ones, minced

6. Dhana Jeera powder – 1 teaspoon

7. Curry Leaves, Jeera, Hing, Oil, Pam oil spray

For the stuffing –
1. Peanuts – ½ cup

2. Cous Cous – 1 teaspoon

3. Dhaniya – 1 tablespoon

4. Jeera – 1 teaspoon

5. Chana Dal – 1 teaspoon

6. Dry Red Chili – 5-6

7. Turmeric – a pinch

8. Garam Masala – ½ teaspoon

9. Kitchen King Masala – ½ teaspoon

10.Amchur Powder – 1 teaspoon

11.Salt – as needed

Here’s how I stuffed them up:
1. Dry roast the peanuts, cous cous, dhaniya, jeera, chana dal and red chili. When they turn aromatic and slightly tan, turn off the heat. Allow them to cool.

2. Grind these ingredients to a fine powder with some salt. Mix in the Garam Masala, Kitchen King, Turmeric, and Amchur powders. You could use whole masalas while roasting and grind them with the other ingredients. This is an easier alternative and prevents chunky remains from cinnamon sticks and yields the same flavour.

3. Wash and pat dry the okra with a paper towel. As is the case with all okra dishes, removing the surface water is crucial to prevent stickiness while cooking.

4. Trim the ends, slit them lengthwise. If they’re too long, cut them into halves. Stuff the okras with about a quarter spoon of the powder, or as needed. Hold on to any remaining powder.

5. Arrange them in a microwave safe plate. Spray some Pam oil on the stuffed okra. Microwave them till they are cooked soft. I sometimes microwave them till they turn crispy like when deep-fried.

6. In a large pan, heat some oil. Allow the jeera to splutter, add in the curry leaves. Saute the garlic and minced green chili. Fry the onions till they turn brown. Add the tomatoes followed by dhana jeera powder and a pinch of salt and turmeric. Add the remaining stuffing powder. Cook till the tomatoes mash into a smooth pulp.

7. Now stir in the pre-cooked okra and allow the flavours to blend
Serve with rice or rotis.

This serves 4, but if you really love Okra and go for multiple helpings, it serves just two! S was so tempted to have rotis but we ended up gorging this dish as a prelude to some delicious tomato rice made with fresh Roma and Campari tomatoes.


  1. I make the same was except i avoid peanuts.

  2. Oh usually I avoid it too. This time I wanted to try it this way to get more texture. Too good, trust me, that's why I said, inspired from the Baghara baingan recipe. It adds a very nutty and yummy texture and flavour

  3. guess what, i had this for the first time at a wedding. remember sreeni in our office? his brother's wedding. and it was great. i asked for a second and third helping. awesome stuff really. and i was wondering how it's made... : ) now i know.

  4. Awww RDX, yay! If you ever go to Eden sometime, try ordering this there :) This version of my Bhindi Masala tastes a little nutty and rich - more Andhraish. But it turned out awesome nonetheless :D