Bendakaya Pulusu (Okra In Tamarind Gravy)

For several years, weekends were normally spent in my home of my friend, D. R. Naidu. Protima, Naidu’s wife then, was (and is) a fabulous cook. She had influences from both West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. I have had pulusu countless times at her place. It is a wet dish in a tamarind gravy, native to Andhra Pradesh (and Telengana). I love the taste of pulusu, especially with hot, steaming rice. It also tastes good with dosa, idli….
I have never really tried to make it on my own. A couple of weeks ago, I had the sudden urge to have a pulusu. So I hunted the recipe and told Hari to prepare the dish. Needless to say, he got it right at the first attempt, bless him! So, here goes! Pulusu can be made with several different vegetables. I made this with okra.

Bendakaya Pulusu

250 gms okra, cut into 1″ pieces
A lemon sized ball of tamarind, soaked and juice extracted
100 gms onions, chopped
2 tbsp sambar powder (refer to the section “Chutneys & Powders” in this blog for the recipe)
2 green chilis, chopped
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
A pinch of asafoetida (hing, perunkayam)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
2 tsp red chili powder
1 sprig curry leaves
Salt to taste
Heat a wok and add mustard seeds
When they begin to splutter, add the chopped onions
Sauté the onions till translucent
Add curry leaves, sambar powder, turmeric powder and chili powder
Add the chopped okra and sauté on low flame for about 5 minutes
Add salt
Add the tamarind juice and and enough water to cook the okra (you can always adjust the consistency at a later stage by adding water)
Cook till the okra is done
Adjust to the required consistency by adding water
Simmer for about 10 minutes and transfer to a serving bowl
Serve with steamed red/brown rice or breakfast dishes like idli/dosa

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