Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Okra with Almonds--Spicy and Crunchy

I first tried okra in England and ate it quite often there. I had it mostly the Indian way, with a spicy tomato sauce--its acidity helps eliminate the slime that okra produces. Here in the U.S. okra is popular in the South, where it is served mostly deep fried and often breaded, or also in a rich tomato sauce. As always some love it--despite its rather bland taste and sliminess, but some do not see anything special in it. It's delicate taste may be enriched with spices, the same way it can be done with other delicate vegetables, like pumpkin or zucchini.

Last week, okra, or lady's fingers, as it is also called, showed up en masse in Asian and Middle Eastern grocery stores in my area. It looked exceptionally fresh and green. This is not always the case with okra, which is a rather fragile vegetable and can get easily damaged in transportation. I bought a pound of it and prepared for dinner. I made it according to the recipe that I got years ago, probably in England.

Preparing okra this way seemed interesting as it has some Indian spices, but not tomatoes, which may overshadow okra's subtle taste. The okra I bought was very young and fresh and somehow not slimy at all. But if you are not so lucky, you can eliminate sliminess by soaking okra in vinegar for about 10 minutes. Also, adding a couple of drops of lemon juice to okra should resolve that problem.

I must say that the more often i prepare okra, the more I enjoy its taste and do not mind its slimy texture.

Okra with Almonds

1 lb fresh okra,
1/2 cup toasted, slivered almonds,
2 tbsp olive oil,
3 garlic cloves, minced,
2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated,
2 tsp ground cumin,
2 tsp ground coriander,
1 tbsp red paprika,
salt and pepper.

1. Wash okra and cut the stems off.

2. If you use raw almonds put them on a hot pan and toast turning constantly until gold. Remove and save.
3. Pour oil into the same frying pan, heat it, add okra and fry for about 3 minutes.
4. Add garlic, ginger, spices, stir in, and cook together for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly so the spices coat the okra.
5. Add a cup of water, season with salt and pepper, and cook further for about 5 minutes, or until okra feels tender.
6. Add almonds and stir them in.

Serve with white basmati or jasmine rice, bread or by itself.