Recipe for Bendekai Gojju, a Karnataka style Okra Curry made using seasonal fresh okra
If there’s one vegetable that flourishes in these daring-to-melt-you hot summers, it is okra (Lady’s finger / Bhindi / Bendekai / Vendakkai).
We are fortunate to have this low-carb, low calorie, high-insoluble fibre vegetable that can be cooked in a variety of ways in an Indian diet. Okra pretty much ticks all the boxes for an ideal diabetic food. Okra can be used to make dry curries, both North Indian and South Indian style. It also goes well with onions as in Bhindi Do Pyaza and Bhindi Masala. Okra / Vendakkai Sambar is much loved sambar variety in our home.
The idea for this Karnataka Style Bendekai Gojju came from my friend Lakshmi. We talk to each other almost everyday and discuss mostly work and life. Very rarely do we discuss food. For one, I already have enough food and food talks in my life, and two, Lakshmi is not a crazy cooking enthusiast like me. But once in a while, conversations do veer to ‘what did you have for lunch’. Over one such conversation yesterday, she told me about this dish – Bendekai Gojju she made for lunch. Knowing my ‘healthy cooking’ tendencies, she stressed on the point that I need to use little more oil for this that I usually would in my cooking.
Since this required a more generous usage of oil to get the right taste & flavour, I wanted to be extra careful in ensuring that both the recipe ingredients & the oil are healthy and balanced. It seemed like the perfect recipe to cook in Fortune VIVO Diabetes-Care Oil that I have been testing these days – which is targeted towards managing blood sugar levels and blood pressure. As I heated a couple of big spoonfuls of oil in the kadai, I could feel the strong and rich aroma coming out. A generous pinch of mustard seeds and all that spluttering later, in went a pinch of asafoetida and turmeric powder. A small pile of sliced up okra, waiting its turn tumbled into the hot seasoned oil with a loud sizzle. As per Lakshmi’s instructions, I allowed the okra to cook on a medium flame for a longish time until they turned nearly brown and were well fried.
Rasam powder (a South Indian spice mix) was needed for this gojju. I am not a fan of rasam, ergo I rarely stock rasam powder in my kitchen. I know a lot of people substitute sambar powder for rasam powder in a pinch, but I am quite insistent that both of them have different flavour profiles. So while I am a master of substitutions, this is one thing I don’t approve of. Chandra Padmanabhan’s book Simply South was lying on my breakfast counter and on a whim I went through the recipe index, only to find a Karnataka style rasam powder recipe. Instead of buying a whole packet of rasam powder and letting it die a slow death in my kitchen shelves, the idea of making a small quantity of fresh rasam powder sounded appealing. I went on and fried the ingredients for this spice mix while the okra was roasting away.
The whole recipe came together beautifully and healthy – the heat and aroma from the fresh spice powder, the tanginess from the tamarind extract, the touch of sweetness from the jaggery and the unique texture of well cooked okra, all rounded off by the rich flavours from the oil. Bendekai Gojju with some rice and ghee made a delicious summer lunch and it is one recipe that I will be making every time I get hold of fresh okra.
Quite a few people get put off by the slime in the okra, but there are tried and tested ways to completely bypass the slime.
How to cook okra without the slime
- Wash the okra. Wipe completely dry with a cotton kitchen towel. You can even wrap the washed okra in the towel for a couple of hours for all the water to get absorbed.
- Use a dry knife to top and tail the okra, and slice it as required for the recipe.
- Saute well in slightly more quantity of oil, so it crisps up nicely. After this even if you add liquids like tamarind water or dal, it will not get slimy.
- Addition of astringent spices like anardana (dried pomegranate powder), amchoor (dried mango powder) also helps combat the slimy nature of okra. These spice powders work well in dry okra curries.
For Rasam Powder:
- 1 tsp Fortune VIVO Diabetes-Care Oil
- 3 tbsp tur dal / split yellow lentils
- 4-5 dried red chillies
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1/2 tsp black pepper corns
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 3 tbsp Fortune VIVO Diabetes-Care Oil
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- pinch of asafoetida
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 cups sliced tender okra
- 1-2 tbsp packed tamarind
- 1/2 - 1 tbsp jaggery
- 1 tbsp fresh coconut
- 1 tsp salt
- To prepare the Karnataka style rasam powder, heat the oil in a kadai / wok.
- Add all the ingredients for the powder and saute on a medium flame until spices are aromatic, dal is golden brown and chillies have turned crisp and deep red. Once cooled, grind to a fine powder and keep aside.
- Meanwhile, to prepare the fresh tamarind extract, cover the tamarind with 1 cup of boiling hot water. We will get back to this later, when the water is cooler and easier to handle.
- In the same kadai, heat 3 tbsp of Fortune VIVO Diabetes-Care Oil. Drop in the mustard seeds, which will immediately go into a spluttering frenzy. Lower the flame and stir in the asafoetida and turmeric.
- Slide the sliced okra into the oil in the pan. Stir on high flame for 1 minute or so. Reduce flame to lowest setting and allow the okra to cook and brown for at least 10-12 minutes.
- Squeeze out all the pulp from the soaking tamarind to get around 1 cup of extract.
- Add this extract to the cooked okra in the pan. Stir in 2-3 tsp of the prepared rasam powder. Add coconut, salt and jaggery and allow this to come to a simmer on a high flame. Lower the flame and continue to simmer until the curry base is thick. Remove into a bowl and serve hot with steamed rice and ghee.
- To make this recipe more diabetic friendly, have it with cooked millets and roasted papad for a hearty meal.
This recipe was made using Fortune VIVO Diabetes-Care Oil , which let me bring out the best taste in Bendakai Gojju and also made it a healthy choice for my entire family.
I have also associated with Fortune VIVO Diabetes-Care Oil, where we are advocating healthy food recipes and increasing awareness about Diabetes. To know more, please visit www.vivobuddy.com