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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Roasted Ladyfingers

Okra has always had a special spot in my heart.  I grew up eating it in the US, but unlike most Americans, I always ate it as a Gujarati dish.  I had it only once the American way in Louisiana in a Gumbo, which was intriguing to me and also very tasty.  I had it again several times in India as a subzi with the Father.  We happily realized we were the only 2 of the group wild about okra so we didn't have to share as much.  There is something about those little pods that make me wild.  I love their cross section.. I love the way their seeds are round and full of wetness.
I also love the way they can be completely transformed by a small gesture.
Example:  Stir too often on stovetop and they will conserve their slime.
Add acidity and the slime will be dissolved
Add salt during cooking and slime will be enhanced
Bake, stuff, or fry.. and be transported to another land...
 To a non-believer, okra pods might look like a chile.  This is a normal remark for someone not familiar with chile other than in a hot sauce bottle.  In the photo above, you can clearly see that it has nothing to do with chile.  A chile contains capsaicin (the heat effect) and is from a completely different family.  Okra is a seed pod of the mallow family of flowering plants.  No heat, just texture and vitamins!
You know they've got to be a naughty vegetable when they are also known as Ladyfingers.  We all know what lady's fingers can procure..
I bought the okra knowing I'd be roasting them, but not knowing exactly which cultural direction I'd be going.  Naturally, I went Indian.  This could have gone a number of ways.. with some herbs and garlic next to a steak.. with some za'tar next to some roasted eggplant, pickled... oh wait.. that's not roasting is it?  
I'm getting distracted here.
I wanted tandoori flavor.. so I used some Tandoori spices for flavor and it was probably the best decision of the day..
Serves 3 as a side
450g (1lb) fresh okra, tops cut off and sliced lengthwise
1 Tbsp olive oil
sprinkle fleur de sel
juice from 1/2 lime
1.  Toss the sliced okra with the olive oil, fleur de sel, and tandoori masala and lay on a baking sheet, cut side up in one layer.
2.  Bake at 200°C 400°F for 20-25 minutes
3.  Squeeze lime juice and serve.
I served mine with some Tandoori Chicken, Sweet Potato Fries, and some Chana-Toor Dal.
This meal was relatively hands-off.. which is nice when you have remodeling happening!

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