May 14, 2012

Oven Baked Okra

So I'm going to cheat today :) and bring in a previously tried vegetable into the mix as New Veggie #28. I can safely and very honestly say that Okra is one of my all time favorite vegetables.

I grew up eating Okra & Roti and can probably eat it everyday and not live to regret it. However, the downside of it being an old favorite and almost a comfort food for me is that the only way I ever eaten it is as Bhindi Masala - which is a staple on the menu of Indian restaurants across the world and a quick Google search reveals pages upon pages of recipes for Bhindi Masala.

While I love that preparation, I have to admit that it tastes best back home in India. But No! Its not all nostalgia! In my opinion, and I speak of over a billion Indians, Okra should be harvested when it is still tender and when the pods are crisp and plump. In the US, most okra available in stores is way past that stage and is often 'too' fibrous.  The best test of the freshness of Okra is to see if the tip breaks of crisply. If the tip bends but doesn't break - its way past its prime. Interestingly, mature okra pods are used to make rope and paper!! So go for the fresh tender pods :)

So while I've cheated in selecting Okra as New Veggie #28 - I'm actually trying out a brand new recipe with it. Because Bhindi Masala is also a dish that uses rather generous amounts of oil, this is also an attempt at reducing the amount of oil used. I only used enough cooking spray to grease the cookie sheet.  

Handling Okra: One thing I remember about eating Okra as a child was the anticipation. Even once the pods were home, it would be a while before the food was brought to the table. The pods were washed well in fresh cold tap water. Then, mom would spread them out in a single layer on a kitchen towel overnight. The next morning, she would carefully wipe down each one to get rid of any residual moisture. That in itself is the biggest trick. Interaction with water, or any liquid for that matter, is what makes okra slimy. But this  mucilage has been shown to have cholesterol-binding properties. So don't pass it by. Here are a few tips to reduce the sliminess of Okra.  (a) Always dry the pods well before slicing. (b) After its been sliced, do not add it to the dish until the very end, and once added, minimize mixing/tossing as much as possible. (c) Sauteing or shallow fry okra cauterizes the cut ends and reduces slime. However, this method uses a LOT of oil. (d) Unless its really necessary, don't cut okra in very small pieces and lastly (e) sour ingredients cut down on the slime. In India, recipes with okra often call for tamarind paste, dried mango powder or lemon juice.

Prep Time: 30-40 min

  1. 2 cups fresh Okra pods, washed and dried well.
  2. 2 tbsp Chickpea flour
  3. 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  4. 1 tsp Chili powder
  5. 2 tsp Garam Masala
  6. 1 tsp Cumin powder
  7. 2 tbsp Coriander powder
  8. Salt, to taste
  9. Freshly cracked black pepper
  10. Lime juice, to taste
Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare a cookie sheet by spraying a thin film of cooking spray. 

Next, wipe each Okra pod with a dry paper towel; trim tips and stalks of each pod. 

Slice each pod lengthwise and transfer to a dry mixing bowl. 

Mix all the dry spices together in a small bowl and then sprinkle half over the slice okra.

Let sit for a couple of minutes and then add the rest of the dry spices. This allows any mucilage to be absorbed before you add the second helping of dry flour and spices. 

Spread the okra slices in a single layer on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake uncovered for 15 min; then toss once and bake for another 5 minutes until the pods appear slightly wilted.  

Then, for the last 3-4 minutes, turn on the broiler on Low to add some extra 'crisp' !! & Voila ... !! 

Serving Suggestion: Sprinkle with some lemon/lime juice and serve with hot sauce. I think I died and went to heaven!! This was so good!! I ate it all :-) 


  1. So excited to try this! Can I put you on my blog roll on my blog, Pragati?

  2. I love okra and this recipe looks really, really good! Thanks! Allen.