Chettinad Vendakkai Varuval (Okra ‘Fry’)

Okra is one of my favourite vegetables. There are literally hundreds of recipes using this very versatile vegetable, each one tastier than the next. Every region of India has it’s own unique recipes. Being a summer vegetable (in the Northern parts of the country), it is available only seasonally. But it is available throughout the year in most other parts of the country.
Chettinad is a region of the South Indian state of Thamizhnadu. It’s cuisine is iconic, though often chili hot. Known primarily for non-vegetarian dishes, there are several vegetarian dishes too that taste wonderful. I am a great fan of Chettinad cuisine. I was therefore particularly delighted when I came across this traditional recipe.

Chettinad Vendakkai Varuval

500 gms okra (bhendi, vendakkai)
1 large onion, sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp chili powder
3 garlic cloves, crushed
A pinch of turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
2 tbsp vegan yogurt
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
1 sprig curry leaves
Salt to taste
Wash and chop the okra into 1″ pieces
Transfer to a bowl and marinate with salt, turmeric powder and vegan yogurt
Set aside for 15 minutes
Then transfer to an air fryer and ‘fry’ for 10 minutes, or till the ‘glue’ is absorbed
Set aside
Heat a wok and add mustard seeds and curry leaves
When the mustard begin to splutter, add onion and garlic
Sauté till the onion turns translucent
Add tomato and chili powder
Adjust salt
Cook till the tomato turns mushy
Finally, add the okra and cook on medium flame for about 3 minutes
Remove from flame and transfer to a serving bowl
Serve hot with red/brown rice or Indian flat breads

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