Bhindi, also known as okra or “lady fingers,” is a popular vegetable all over India, West Africa, the Middle East and the Southern United States. Here I show you many Indian preparations for this mucilaginous veg, from stuffed and baked to fried or stewed. I am sure you will like these varied and unique 20 Bhindi recipes from the Indian cuisine.
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What Is Bhindi?
Bhindi refers to a particular plant in the mallow family that is related to cotton, hibiscus and cocoa. In Indian cuisine, the edible green pods of the bhindi plant are the most coveted part, though other parts are also edible.
Long and pointed with a roughly pentagonal shape, bhindi pods are filled with seeds that can actually be removed, roasted and ground to make a caffeine free coffee substitute, or pressed to make cooking oil.
The tender leaves of the bhindi plant can also be eaten like the leaves of taro roots or greens of beets or moringa pods; they are lovely in raw salads or cooked in a style similar to sautéed spinach.
Bhindi is a popular vegetable in India, not only because it is tasty, but also because it grows so easily! It happens to be one of the most drought- and heat-tolerant cultivars in the world, making it a great option for people living in warm climates. It can even tolerate growth in clay-heavy soil, which can often be problematic for other vegetables.
What Is The Best Way To Eat Okra Pods?
Okra pods can be eaten in a variety of ways – raw, baked, fried, or stewed in soups or curries.
The cooked products of the bhindi plant can sometimes be off-putting for some, as they are a mucilaginous veg that gives off a sort of gooey substance when cooked. This can be a benefit for cooking some curries and stews as it acts as a natural thickener, but in other applications, the sliminess is unwelcome.
If you are someone who doesn’t love the slimy nature of okra, there are a few fixes.
- First, after rinsing them, pat dry them thoroughly. Either wipe them dry with a clean kitchen towel and place in a tray or plate to dry naturally. Avoid contact with water before chopping and cooking. Water seems to increase the release of the mucus that people find unsettling.
- Second, adding sour acidic ingredients reduces the stickiness while cooking. So try to cook okra with ingredients like tomatoes, yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, dry mango powder or kokum.
- Third, sautéing or lightly frying the chopped okra also reduces the sliminess. Be sure not to cover the pan with a lid until the recipe mentions it. Covering pan creates steam which may lead to the okra becoming sticky.
- Fourth, try cutting and cooking the pods from frozen; they’re often less slimy that way.
- Finally, be sure to make as few cuts to the pods as possible. The more slices you make, the more surfaces there are that can release the gooey stuff.
Is Okra Healthy?
Absolutely! Okra pods are low in calories, but high in nutritious substances like fiber, lectin, polyphenols, vitamins C and K, potassium, and folate.
Bhindi has also been linked to cancer-fighting properties, improved heart health, lower blood sugar, and higher bone density, among other health benefits.
How Do I Pick Good Okra Pods?
As with most fruits and veggies, you’ll want to choose pods that are firm and smooth to the touch. Avoid any pods that are shriveled, fibrous, bruised or blemished. The pods should also be bright green and should be no larger than 10 centimeters in length.
How Should I Store Bhindi?
To prevent the bhindi from getting slimy or moldy, be sure to store the pods in a paper bag (or wrapped in paper towels and placed in a perforated plastic bag) or a cotton bag in the fridge. They should be used within 2 to 3 days of purchase.
Other things to note:
- Don’t wash the pods until you’re ready to cook them; water makes them extra slimy!
- Pat the pods dry prior to cooking. Again, water is the enemy here.
Can I Freeze Okra?
To extend the storage time, bhindi can be frozen. Remove the stem and tip ends, then chop them to whatever size you prefer.
Freeze on a parchment lined sheet until frozen through, then transfer to a zip-top bag or place them in an air-tight container or box. Remove as much air as possible before placing it in the freezer. Frozen pods will last for up to three months.
Popular Indian Bhindi Recipes
There are many unique dishes made with Bhindi or Okra in the Indian Cuisine. The preparation method, ingredients used, cooking technique varies with specific Indian state and cuisine. But there are some Indian okra recipes that are very popular and I have listed four of them below.
Gluten Free Recipes
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