Scott's Kitchen: Bhindi Masala from Hari Pulapaka

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Okra iStill

In this episode, chef and cookbook author Hari Pulapaka shows me how to make bhindi masala, a popular okra dish from India.

It’s a recipe from Pulapaka’s upcoming book, Dreaming In Spice, a Sinfully Vegetarian Odyssey.

Many of the ingredients may be found in your favorite grocery store, but you may need to go to an Indian specialty store, such as Spice House in Longwood, for the curry leaves. (They keep the curry leaves behind the checkout counter, for some reason.)

Watch the video then read Pulapaka’s recipe below. And make the naan, too, it really adds to the enjoyment.

Here’s the excerpt from Pulapaka’s book:

Bhindi (Okra) Masala & Naan
By Hari Pulapaka

Indian cuisine embraces okra like few others. People often tell me that they would like okra more if it wasn’t for the “slime”. Growing up, we had pretty good okra, but when I discovered Emerald okra, the fact that I could eat the okra uncooked and it tasted delicious, only meant that using it for a popular Indian preparation would really highlight the okra just as much as the expectedly simple spice combinations.

Dreaming in Spice OdysseyLEVEL: Easy
YIELD: approximately 4 servings

INGREDIENTS
2 pounds washed and dried okra (I prefer the “emerald” variety), cut into biased 3/4 inch pieces
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
10 fresh curry leaves (usually available in Indian grocery stores)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 medium red onion, peeled, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh jalapeño
1 cup fresh diced tomatoes
1 lemon
1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
salt & pepper, in stages and per taste

METHOD
In a large skillet, heat the oil on a medium heat, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and curry leaves until the mustard seeds start popping. Add the ginger and garlic and stir for 20 seconds. Next, add onions and sauté until translucent. Now add all the dry spices and stir for 30 seconds or so. Next, add the okra and stir so that the spices coat all the okra. If needed, add more oil. Cook the okra, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes or so. Add in the tomatoes and jalapeños. Stir, cover, and let simmer on low heat for an additional 15 minutes, stirring periodically as needed. When the okra is cooked to the desired doneness, remove the lid and “cook off” any additional liquid until the dish is mostly “dry.” Finish by squeezing the juice of one lemon and stirring in the fresh cilantro. Serve with any flatbread like naan or pita.

NAAN

LEVEL: Basic
YIELD: approximately 6

INGREDIENTS
2 cups all-purpose flour, more as needed
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup milk or water, more as needed
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
pinch of granulated sugar
water, for steaming the naan in the oven

METHOD
Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the salt and baking powder. Warm milk to about 95F, add the sugar and yeast. Whisk and set aside for 5 minutes. In a bowl whisk the yogurt to a smooth consistency. Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour the yogurt mixture into the well. Also add the milk mixture to the well. Using your fingertips work the flour into the liquid until you form a smooth and sticky dough. Do not knead the dough. It should be somewhat sticky. Oil a large bowl. Pour in the dough. Coat the dough with vegetable oil. Cover lightly with a damp towel. Set aside for 2 hours. After the dough has roughly doubled, punch it down (do not work it too much). Form 3-inch diameter balls. Let rest for 10 minutes. On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough without exerting too much pressure into round or oblong “disks” (about 1/8 in thickness). Heat oven to 550 F with a pizza or other type of baking stone. With fingertips, add water to tops of disks. Bake in oven for approximately 5 minutes per side. Brush with melted butter or ghee.