If there’s one classic bhindi (okra) dish with North Indian flavors, it is the Bhindi Masala. This is a semi-dry preparation featuring the star ingredient okra pods (bhindi in Hindi), piquant onions, tangy tomatoes, bold Indian spices and herbs. It is one of the most popular dishes served in almost all restaurants too, of North India. My Bhindi Masala Recipe is an easy and delicious Punjabi style preparation, which is also vegan, gluten-free and quite wholesome. There’s a video as well as the step-by-step picture demonstration that’ll help you to make it at your home.
Table of Contents
About Bhindi Masala Recipe
in Hindi language, okra or lady’s fingers is called ‘Bhindi’. The term ‘Masala’ in this preparation refers to a sautéed and cooked base of aromatics like onions, garlic, ginger with the usual tomatoes and a handful of Indian spices and herbs.
Thus the Bhindi Masala Recipe actually refers to okra made in a tangy and spiced masala base of onions, tomatoes, ground spices and herbs. The spice combination that I have used in this recipe is often added to many other recipes from the Punjabi cuisine.
Some years back, I had tried Bhindi Masala in a North Indian restaurant and it was super delightful, in fact fantastic! The flavors and texture of the dish just overpowered its simplicity.
This Bhindi Masala Recipe replicates the one that is served in restaurants. Some restaurants also serve a gravy version of this dish. But my recipe is that of a semi-dry one.
When it comes to our favorite vegetables at home, bhindi or okra tops the list. It is quite a staple for us, just like the potato or aloo. We usually prefer dry or semi-dry versions of any sabzi with bhindi.
Most of the Indian recipes with okra are simple to make and nutritious too. So is this Bhindi Masala Recipe. If you too are a fan of okra, just like us, then do try these Okra Recipes.
I usually add kasuri methi to my recipe of Bhindi Masala. Kasuri methi are dried fenugreek leaves which have a lovely aroma. Though it is optional, if you want a restaurant style version of this dish, then don’t miss on the kasuri methi.
Make Okra Perfectly Everytime
This is your safest guide for making the best Bhindi Masala, or for that matter, any other dish which has bhindi or okra in it. Read on…
- Rinsing: After rinsing okra in water, drain all the water completely. There should not be any water or moisture on the okra pods. Otherwise, while chopping and later while cooking, they will become slimy or sticky.
- Drying: Then, wipe each okra pod completely dry with a clean kitchen towel or cotton napkin. You can even dry okra pods by spreading them on a large plate or tray and then drying them under the fan.
- Chopping: Before you chop okra, they should be completely dry. When chopping okra, some of the slimy substance sticks to the knife. You can wipe it with a kitchen paper towel or paper napkin and then continue to chop.
- Cooking methods: Sautéing, pan frying or even deep-frying okra helps in reducing its stickiness or sliminess. When you fry or sauté okra before you make a gravy or masala, it will not only make your gravy or sauce taste good but also remove the stickiness from okra. In this Bhindi Masala Recipe, I have sautéed okra first.
- Fats: The addition of extra oil also minimizes stickiness. 3 tablespoons of oil which is added in this Bhindi Masala Recipe is perfect. You can even add 4 tablespoons of oil. However, do not reduce the oil to 2 tablespoons.
- Souring ingredients: Adding sour or tangy ingredients help to reduce the sliminess of the okra. Sour and tangy ingredients like tomatoes, tamarind, dried mango powder (amchur powder), lime or lemon juice, vinegar, kokum (garcinia indica), curd, buttermilk are great for use, depending on the kind of recipe or dish you are making with okra.
In this recipe of Bhindi Masala, I have used tomatoes and dried mango powder which not only impart a nice tangy taste but also help to get rid of the stickiness and sliminess.
How to make Bhindi Masala
Prep and Sauté Bhindi
1. Rinse 250 grams bhindi (okra) well in water using a colander or strainer. Spread them on a tray or plate and let them dry on their own under the fan.
You can even wipe dry each okra pod with a clean kitchen towel.
2. When they are completely dry, chop each bhindi in 1 or 2 inch pieces.
Before chopping, make sure there is not even a single drop of water or any moisture on the okra pods.
3. In a heavy kadai, pan or skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil and add the chopped okra. You can use any neutral-tasting oil. I mostly use sunflower oil or peanut oil.
4. Mix chopped bhindi well with the oil.
5. Now, sauté bhindi, stirring often, on low to medium-low heat.
6. Sauté bhindi until tender and cooked. You should see a few blisters or golden spots on the okra. Remove the sautéed okra and keep aside.
Taste the sautéed okra. The crunchiness should not be there. Instead, you should taste a nicely softened bhindi. This means that it is well cooked.
Frying or sautéing okra in oil minimizes the sliminess and stickiness in this recipe.
7. Remove the cooked bhindi in a plate and keep aside. Also chop onions, tomatoes, green chilies and keep aside. Crush ginger and garlic in mortar-pestle to get ginger-garlic paste.
Make Onion Tomato Masala
8. In the same kadai or pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add 1 medium-sized chopped onion (⅓ cup chopped onions).
Note: For a richer taste, you can swap oil with ghee (clarified butter).
9. Mix and begin to sauté the onions on low to medium heat.
10. Sauté onions, stirring often, until translucent. The onions should be softened.
11. Then, add 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste and chopped green chilies.
12. Stir and sauté on low heat until the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away. This takes about a few seconds.
13. Next, add 2 medium sized chopped tomatoes (1 cup chopped tomatoes).
14. Mix well and begin to sauté tomatoes on low to medium-low heat.
If the tomato mixture becomes too dry and starts sticking to the pan, add a few splashes of water – about 3 to 4 tablespoons water. Mix well and continue to sauté, stirring often.
15. Sauté tomatoes till soft and mushy.
16. Now, add all of the ground spices listed below:
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder or ½ teaspoon sweet paprika or ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
- ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
17. Next, add the following ground spices:
- ½ teaspoon fennel powder, optional
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon dried mango powder (amchur powder)
If you do not have dried mango powder, add ½ teaspoon dried pomegranate seeds powder (anardana powder).
You can add lemon juice, but I suggest to squeeze fresh lemon juice on top of the Bhindi Masala while eating it. Adding lemon juice directly to the dish can make it very tangy.
18. Mix the ground spices very well and sauté for a couple of seconds.
Make Bhindi Masala
19. Add the sautéed bhindi.
20. Season with salt as per taste.
21. Mix very well.
22. Now, add ½ teaspoon crushed dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi). If you do not have dried fenugreek leaves, then skip it.
23. Stir the mixture well. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring in between. Check the taste of Bhindi Masala and add more of the ground spice powders and salt, if required.
24. Lastly, add 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves. Mix again. You can also add 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves, if you do not have coriander leaves.
25. Serve Bhindi Masala hot or warm.
Like all other dry okra recipes, you can savor this Bhindi Masala too with some soft phulka, roti, or chapati. You can also enjoy it with naan, paratha or rumali roti. A side of cucumber raita or veg raita also pairs really well with these combinations.
Make the Bhindi Masala Recipe and also try it as a side dish with some dal-rice or any rice-curry combination. You can also serve it as a side with any North Indian meal.
It can also be packed in the tiffin or lunch box with roti or paratha.
- Okra or Bhindi: Buy tender and fresh okra pods when you plan to make any recipe with them. They should have a smooth, shiny look with a nice green color and should not look dry. They should not be dense or fibrous.
- Fats: You can use any neutral-tasting oil to cook this recipe. I usually use peanut oil or sunflower oil. For a richer taste, you can even make this dish in ghee (clarified butter). Optionally, you can also add 1 tablespoon of heavy cream or whipping cream.
- Omitting onions and garlic: If you decide not to add onions and garlic in this recipe, then while sautéing tomatoes, add a pinch of asafoetida (hing).
- Spices: You can add less or more of the ground spices, according to your taste preferences. In place of red chili powder, you can use cayenne powder too. The fennel powder (saunf powder) is optional, you can skip it. If you don’t have dried mango powder (amchur powder), then you can add ½ teaspoon dried pomegranate seeds powder (anardana powder).
- Dried fenugreek leaves: If you do not have dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi), then simply skip them. But it gives a good aroma and restaurant like taste.
- Lemon or lime juice: You can add lemon juice, but I suggest to squeeze fresh lemon juice on top of the dish while eating it. Adding lemon juice directly to the dish can make it very tangy.
- Herbs: In place of chopped coriander leaves, you can also add 1 tablespoon of chopped mint leaves.
- Variation: For a hearty, filling dish, you can opt to add roasted, sautéed or pan-fried potato cubes.
- Scaling: My recipe can be easily scaled – halved, doubled or tripled.
Please be sure to rate the recipe in the recipe card or leave a comment below if you have made it. For more vegetarian inspirations, Sign Up for my emails or follow me on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.
Bhindi Masala Recipe (Punjabi Style)
- 2 tablespoons oil – sunflower oil or peanut oil or any neutral oil
- 250 grams okra (bhindi or lady finger)
- 1 tablespoon oil – sunflower oil or peanut oil or any neutral oil
- ⅓ cup finely chopped onions or 1 medium-sized onion
- 1 teaspoon Ginger Garlic Paste or 1 inch ginger and 3 to 4 medium garlic cloves, crushed in mortar-pestle
- 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes 2 medium-sized tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Coriander Powder (ground coriander)
- ½ teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder or ¼ teaspoon red chilli powder or cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon fennel powder (ground fennel), optional
- ½ teaspoon Garam Masala
- ½ teaspoon amchur powder (dry mango powder) or add as required
- salt as required
- ½ teaspoon kasuri methi – crushed (dry fenugreek leaves ) – optional
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
- Rinse the bhindi (okra) well in water for a couple of times.
- Dry them on a large plate on their own or wipe with a kitchen towel. Make sure there is no moisture or water on the okra pods.
- Remove the base and stalk while chopping them. Chop into 1 or 1.5 inch pieces.
- Also chop onions and tomatoes. Keep aside.
- Make a paste of ginger and garlic in mortar-pestle and keep aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a kadai (wok) or pan.
- Add the chopped bhindi and sauté stirring often till they are completely cooked. You will have to keep an eye on them and stir in between many times.
- Taste the sautéed okra and if the crunchiness is not there and the bhindi have become soft, it means they are cooked. Keep the sautéed bhindi aside.
Sautéing onions, tomatoes, spices
- All the oil will be used up. So add 1 tablespoon oil to the same pan.
- Add chopped onions and sauté stirring often on low to medium heat till they become translucent and are softened.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté on low heat for a few seconds or till the raw aroma of the ginger-garlic disappears.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and saute stirring often till the tomatoes become soft and mushy.
- If the tomato mixture becomes too dry and starts sticking to the pan, then add about ¼ cup water. Mix well and continue to cook.
- All the above cooking is done in a open pan and you don’t need to cover the pan with the lid.
- Add all the dry ground spice powders one by one.
- Mix well and saute for a few seconds on low heat.
Making bhindi masala
- Add the sautéed bhindi, crushed kasuri methi, salt and mix so that the onion-tomato masala coats the okra well.
- Cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in between.
- Then turn off the heat and add chopped coriander leaves. Mix again.
- Serve Bhindi Masala hot or warm garnished with a few coriander leaves and accompanied with chapati, roti or naan. It can also be packed for lunch box. It also makes for a nice side dish with any North Indian meal.
- Okra: Buy tender and fresh okra pods. They should have a smooth, shiny look with a nice green color. They should not be dry, dense or fibrous.
- Scaling: You can easily halve or double the recipe.
- Omitting onions and garlic: If you decide not to add onions and garlic, then when sautéing tomatoes, add a pinch of asafoetida (hing).
- Spicing and seasonings: You can add less or more of the ground spices according to your taste preferences.
- Dried fenugreek leaves: Skip dried fenugreek leaves if you do not have them.
- Fats: You can make this recipe in any neutral flavored oil. For a richer taste you can use ghee (clarified butter). Optionally you can also add 1 tablespoon of heavy cream or whipping cream.
- Variation: For a hearty filling dish you can opt to add roasted or sauteed or pan fried potato cubes.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Bhindi Masala recipe post from the archives was first published on April 2013. It has been updated and republished on November 2022.