Okra (also known as lady fingers) have always been one of my favourite vegetable dishes from childhood. It's a popular vegetable in South Asian, African and Caribbean cuisines. My mother would serve them in a spicy tomato and onion sauce with plenty of fresh coriander and freshly made flat breads called roti.
Okra have many digestive benefits. When you cut into this vegetable, they release a clear juice which feels sticky and slimy (mucilage) . Okra are rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, and minerals. They are packed with both soluble and insoluble fibre, which helps prevent constipation, and supports the movement of digesting food in the body. The mucilage is a source of food for beneficial gut bacteria, which supports overall digestive health.
Okra are low in calories and support blood sugar and cholesterol management. There are so many health benefits, just give them a go.
Here's how to make my version of this tasty vegetarian dish. You can increase or decrease the level of spices to adjust your personal taste.
1 kg of fresh okra
1-2 red onions
1 cup tomato passata (or skinned ripe tomatoes, which have been blended)
1 tablespoon of organic clarified butter (or coconut oil)
1 tsp Himalayan or Celtic sea salt
1 green chilli
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes or powder
3/4 tsp turmeric
1 cup chopped coriander
Fresh tomato (for garnishing)
- First I washed and dried my okra as this helps prevent them from becoming overly slimy when they are cut.
- I like to chop all my vegetables before I start making this dish. To prepare the okra, I removed the tops and tails and then sliced them into 1 inch pieces. You will feel and begin to see some of the slimy juice ooze out as you cut them.
- I melted a little ghee in my pan and sautéed the chopped okra until I could no longer see any of the sticky clear juice from the okra. Try not to handle them too much at this stage as they can get very sticky from the slimy juices released.
My mum used to tell me that this initial stage of cooking helps seal the okra and dry out the sticky juice.
- Once the okra had been sealed in this way, I put them aside in a separate bowl.
- Next I chopped my onion and gently fried them in a little ghee until they started to soften.
- Then I added my spices (chopped green chilli, red chilli flakes and turmeric) to the softened onions and cooked them with a little water to prevent sticking.
- I then added my tomato passata (you could use around 1 cup of skinned ripe tomatoes, which have been blended) to my onion mixture and cooked the masala mixture until the ghee started to separate from the sauce.
- I added my okra to the masala mixture. As it cooked, I added a few splashes of water to prevent any sticking to the pan and to maintain a dry consistency to this dish.
- I cooked the okra until they were done (they are tender and no longer taste slimy)
- I then stirred in my chopped tomatoes and coriander and did a final check of my seasonings
I love the fresh colourful look of this dish. Growing up, okra curry was always served with freshly made roti (flatbread made from whole wheat). I still enjoy okra with roti but I also like to serve it with flat breads made from mung or channa dhal, which are gluten-free and rich in protein.