Okra curry (bhinda nu shak / ladyfingers curry)

One of the favourites in our house is Okra curry – in gujarati it’s called Binda nu shak.
A good way to tell if okra is fresh is to bend the stem at the end, if it snaps off cleanly the veg is fresh; if the tips bends then veg is not fresh. Good okra is firm, green, will have a soft peach like feel and have no blemishes. Don’t buy if there are black spots on skin and the stems feel soft.
It’s a bit of a superveg with vit B6,C, calcium, fibre and folic acid. Diabetic indians also eat them quite a lot as I think it includes something that helps the blood.

400g okra
2 tbs groundnut or veg oil (not olive as that’s too strong)
1.5 tsp mustard seeds (if you have fenugreek seeds put in about 6 too)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp mixed dhana jeeru powder (ground roasted coriander and cumin seeds)
1.5 tsp salt – or to taste
1 medium onion diced finely
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 fresh green chilli depending on how hot you want the final result to be
1 medium tomato (use vine not salad. Better still get tomatoes from indian grocer). Chopped into very small dice.
Coriander for garnish

Preparing the okra
It’s important to get as much moisture out of the okra before cooking to stop it becoming too gloopy. So wash the okra thoroughly in cold water. Then wipe each okra with a tissue – this takes off both any dirt that sticks to the okra’s peachy skin and extra water. It may seem like a lot of work but believe me it’s worth it to get a nice consistency in the final shak.
Okra often have worms in them – as I’m a vegetarian I choose not to eat them. So when you chop the okra into small slices make sure you check for worms. Obviously discard the ones with the worms 🙂

  • Heat oil over medium heat in a pan
  • Throw in the mustard seeds.
  • Once the seeds start popping, throw in the onion. Do not let the seeds burn as that makes the taste very bitter.
  • Let onion cook until they start to caramelise then add garlic and chili and cook for about 30 seconds.
  • Put in the okra and let them fry in the onion / garlic mixture for 2 minutes.
  • Add spices and mix. As you keep mixing, you will notice the okra start to get gloopy which is normal.
  • Stir shak often otherwise it will stick to the pan.
  • Okra don’t take long to cook – about 5 minutes. So after about 4 minutes of cooking, put in tomatoes and then let shak cook for about 3 minutes on a very low heat.
  • Garnish with coriander and serve with chappatis or fresh basmati rice. It’s also very delicious with a bit of yoghurt on the side.