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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Papa's Indian Okra

I grew up eating this okra dish. When I finally got my hands on some okra (almost impossible to find in this little French countryside of mine) I literally jumped for joy in this little paris minimarket. The guy must have thought I was insane, but hey, I found OKRA! Try explaining that to a frenchman who keeps wondering what the heck is okra...
Serves 5-6
1 lb okra (heads and tails cut off, and sliced into chunks)
1 whole container plain yogurt
1 bunch cilantro
2 green chilies
1 inch chunk of ginger
7 cloves garlic
1 tbsp gram flour (chickpea flour)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds (which can increase milk supply if breastfeeding btw)
2 whole cloves
some red pepper flakes
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp brown sugar
2/3 cup rice
1/3 cup yellow or red split peas
1 handful green peas
2 cups water
some dry cranberries or raisins
green onions and lime for garnish

wow this is a lot of ingredients and surprisingly, the only thing I didn't have on hand was cilantro and okra...

1. In a blender, blend together 3 cloves garlic, the gram flour, ginger, 1 chili, cilantro, and yogurt with a little water. Set aside.
2. Chop the 4 other cloves garlic, 1 chili, and get the spices ready.
3. In a deep sautee pan, heat the oil and ad cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and fenugreek until they start to crackle. Then add the chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, chili (depending on how spicy you want it) and 1 tsp turmeric.
4. Add the chopped okra, and cook for 5-10 minutes until okra starts oozing. Stir constantly to prevent the spices from burning, and add a little water if it gets too dry.
5. Meanwhile, heat your salted water with 1 tsp turmeric and cook the rice with the split peas, green peas and dried fruit.
6. When the okra is slimy, add the yogurt mixture with 1 tsp brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered until rice is cooked. Add salt to taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve either separately as 1 small bowl soup and 1 small bowl rice, or combine in a large soup bowl and top with chopped green onions and a squeeze of lime.

This seems like a lot of steps and technique, but once all the chopping and preparing is done, it comes together quite easily. I love this recipe! It is healthy and has enough protein and fiber that you forget it's vegetarian!
Each of the spices has amazing nutritional properties, especially turmeric and fenugreek. The gram flour is a thickener, but gives lots of flavor to the dish. I don't recommend using a substitute. If you want it to be more soupy, use less of it.
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