Okra, ladies fingers or bhindi as we call it in Hindi, is a favorite summer vegetable at my home. We both love it and I get 2 kilos of okra every week when I do my vegetable shopping at the weekly market. I can have a dry okra stir fry for a meal, especially if it has some kind of souring agent added, be it yogurt or amchoor or tomatoes. A ghee fried salt and pepper okra is a favorite of the husband but I like it only when the okra is very fresh and the subzi is made freshly. Kashmiri spiced okra is another favorite and I love many quick ways to cook okra and have it as a meal.
That reminds me, Many people don't like okra due to the slime it has. I would suggest using baby okra for such people or cooking okra just before serving as the sliminess feels worse when you eat okra that was cooked sometime back. Using dry powders like besan (chickpea flour) or peanut powder can reduce the sliminess if you wish and deep frying the okra also reduces sliminess, but I never deep fry any subzi for daily consumption.
Washing and then air drying the okra before chopping also reduces the slime, cooking or steaming the okra whole also helps in preventing the oozing of slime from them. And try all possible variation you come across as okra is one healthy vegetable you shouldn't miss out on. As for me, I can even have it in sambar, kadhi or thin curries. Slime doesn't deter me when it is okra or bhindi.
For this sookhi subzi with okra, I use desi (heirloom) summer tomatoes and powdered yellow mustard. A stir fry with about 500 gm okra cooks in about 10 minutes, though you need some time to chop the vegetables. Using baby okra is best for this subzi, just remove the stalk and cut into two halves if the okra is more than 2 inches. Rest will come together in just 10 minutes.
(2-4 servings depending on how this is served)
baby okra (bhindi) 500 gm
tomatoes 150 gm or 2 large
finely chopped green chilies and garlic 2 tsp each or to taste
yellow mustard powder 1.5 tbsp or a little more
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
salt to taste
mustard oil 2 tbsp
Chop off the stalks from all the okra. Some of the larger okra can be cut into two so all of them are about an inch long pieces.
Chop the tomatoes into half and then slice them thinly. This can be done when the okra is being cooked.
Heat mustard oil in a deep pan (or kadhai), add the chopped green chilies and garlic and immediately tip in the okra. Add salt and turmeric powder and stir fry for about 3-4 minutes on medium heat.
Add the sliced tomatoes as soon as the okra get blistered. You don't want the okra to cook completely and get mushy. Stir fry along with the tomatoes till they are softer. Add the mustard powder and stir fry for abut 3-4 minutes more. This last phase of stir frying will be on low flame so all the flavors meld well together.
You can add a little water to make a light gravy, but I like it dry as the subzi is quite moist and soft already. A tangy taste of mustard is complemented well by the tart tomatoes. You can use amchoor if you wish as okra tastes yummy that way too. Garlic and chilly can be added in the form of a paste and the heat can be adjusted to taste. This recipe can be a regular at your home as it would be liked by everyone. I am yet to find someone who didn't like this subzi. Just take care of individual preference of heat tolerance and how much tartness one likes in a curry.
Serve this okra stir fry hot with any Indian meal as a side dish. I suggest cooking this just when you plan to serve it if you are serving it to a large gathering, in this quantity it stays well for about 3-4 hours at room temperature and tastes well even cold. I tell you the husband loves this in his lunch box and I have it like a meal sometimes along with some daal.