Bhendi (Okra) Fry

Odisha is a small state in the eastern part of India. It has rich cultural, religious and historical heritage. However, the cuisine is not much known outside the state. I have tried some recipes from this state and really love the dishes.
On another note, most of the East Indian states use a spice mixture call panch phoron. This spice powder contains five ingredients in equal proportions – fenugreek seed, cumin seed, black mustard seed, nigella seed and fennel seed. These spices are added whole, dry roasted or fried in oil to release the aromas and flavour. The dishes using panch phoron have a distictive flavour that is an acquired taste. Having tasted a lot of Bengali cuisine, I tend to like this spice mixture.
My post today is an okra preparation using panch phoron. Absolutely delicious!

Odia Bhendi Fry

250 gms okra (bhendi, vendakkai)
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp panch phoron (added whole)
1 dry red chili
1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
Salt to taste
Wash the okra and pat dry (it should have absolutely no moisture)
Chop the top and tail and cut into bite sized pieces, as seen in the picture above
Set aside
Heat a wok and add the red chili
When the chili turns blackish, add the panch phoron
When the spices begin to splutter, add the onion
When the onion turns translucent, add the okra
Add turmeric powder (do not add salt at this stage if you want the okra to retain its colour)
Mix well, lower the flame and cover with a lid for 5 minutes
Now uncover the wok and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes (longer if the mucus from the okra continues to be present)
Finally add salt, mix well and remove from flame
Serve hot with red/brown rice or Indian flat breads

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