Continuing with my healthy, paleo ‘take away’ food (or ‘fake-away’) I present to you another delicious Indian dish – Bhindi Bhaji. The recipe is a vegetarian recipe but very good for a paleo side dish or starter or even as a left over snack. The full origin of the name escapes be though the word ‘bhindi’ is the Urdu word for okra, also known as Lady’s Fingers. The word ‘bhaji’ generally means a small, flat cake or ball of rice that has been fried (I’m sure we’ve all heard of an onion bhaji) but it can also be a term used for fried vegetables; this however doesn’t apply to this particular recipe as the okra are not fried. Regardless of the origin, the recipe itself is fairly quick and makes a delicious accompaniment to any curry.
The recipe call for fresh okra to be used, I however bought and used a bag of freshly frozen okra from the supermarket and they worked just as well, so don’t worry if you can’t get fresh. What you will need to do in both cases, as the recipe says, is trim the heads off the okra. Additionally the longer you cook the okra for the more tender they will become as you can get some that are tough and stringy.
I’m not sure where this recipe originally came from but the original is not mine, I have adjusted this recipe slightly to make if fully paleo however.
Preparation to Plate: 45-60 minutes
Consume within 3 days
300g Okra, washed, dried and ends trimmed (can use frozen but defrosted)
1 Tin of Tomatoes (approximately 400g)
3 Cloves of Garlic, grated or minced
3cm Piece of Fresh Ginger, grated or minced
1 Large Red Onion, chopped
1-2 tsp Ground Cumin
1-2 tsp Ground Coriander
1-2 tsp Chilli Powder (or two dried chillies)
¼ tsp Turmeric
Handfull of Fresh Coriander, leaves and stalks chopped
Salt & Pepper
In a wide, heavy bottomed pan or skillet melt approximately 2-3 tbsp of the coconut oil over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot add the ground cumin, turmeric, ground coriander and chilli to the oil. Stir to ensure all the spices are incorporated.
After a few seconds add the onion, garlic, ginger and fresh coriander and immediately turn the heat down low. Allow the onions to cook slowly for around 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure that they don’t burn to the bottom of the pan.
Once the onions are tender, add the tomatoes, turn the heat up to medium and cover, letting them cook for a round five minutes, again ensure the tomatoes don’t burn. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper as appropriate, I personally didn’t add anything when I did it but that’s out of personal taste. Now add the okra and stir in to the tomato.
Cover again and cook over a medium-low heat until the okra are cooked and tender. You can test this by piercing them with a knife or, better yet, tasting it. The time it takes to cook may vary, I think that okra that were frozen (but defrosted) will take longer than fresh okra. I cooked mine for about 30 minutes on a low-medium heat and they turned out tender and delicious but please adjust for how it turns out on your own stove/pan etc.
Advice for Shift Workers:
This dish can be frozen in portions and defrosted again when you need them or alternatively keep them in a large tupperware and dish out before a shift. They can be served hot or cold and with summer coming up fast, I recommend cold, the tomato flavour is very refreshing.