Bhindi, okra or even ladies’ fingers, however you know this conical summer vegetable, it is a breeze to cook and pairs extremely well with a wide variety of dals. This recipe for crisp, besan battered Kurkuri Bhindi was a favorite of my mum’s and one that she would make in an instant.
Summer Staple Bhindi – a hardy and draught resistant plant
In addition to being easy to cook, bhindi is actually really easy to grow as well. It is a draught resistant plant that requires only minimal irrigation. I know this from experience, since my father would always plant bhindi in his vegetable garden in Hyderabad. Another sturdy plant that thrives in the hot and dry summer of the central plains and the Deccan plateau is the humble aubergine, or eggplant in the US. These two were staples of every yard that was ever turned into a kitchen garden at home.
The most common method of preparing Bhindi in north India involves chopping, like the image below, and cooking in a tangy tadka of onions and masalas, often with some amchoor (mango powder) to top it off or lime juice for additional tartness.
Experimenting with a favourite to create yet another – the Kurkuri Bhindi!
Never one to shy away from a challenge or pass up an opportunity to be creative with food, my mother started cooking bhindi in a style that not only she, but the entire family came to love.
One of the simplest methods to make any food crisp, is to batter it up and deep fry it or flash fry it. That was never her way. I think I have imbibed the same ethos – I try to avoid deep frying food as much as possible.
Kurkuri Bhindi which comes out nice an karara (crisp and can be spicy too) that my mother used to cook is one of my favourites from childhood. It contains only a handful of ingredients but is packed with flavour and a good crunch.
The difference in texture starts with how the vegetable is prepared and sliced. Long, thin slivers are cut instead of the round, wheel like pieces used for the typical north Indian bhindi. Now, of course these aren’t the only two ways to cook bhindi. You could also stuff it to make bharwan bhindi – slicing the pod into four strips but keeping it intact on the top, or you could in fact batter it up and make pakoras.
This is the one I like best. So here goes.
How to make Kurkuri Bhindi
Prep time: 15-20 minutes; Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves 2-3 persons
- Bhindi (okra) ~ 1.5 lbs / 700 gms
- Besan (chickpea flour) – 3 tbsps or more if needed,
- Red Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp or more per taste,
- Ground turmeric – 1 tsp,
- Coriander powder – 1 tsp,
- Salt – 1 tsp.
- Ground Pepper (optional) ~ a pinch or more,
- Olive Oil (or any cooking oil) – 3 tbsps.
Let’s cook Kurkuri Bhindi – the process
First wash the bhindi and pat it dry with a kitchen towel. Next, start slicing each piece into 4 strips as shown above. Once this is done, in a bowl, mix together besan and all the dry masalas including salt.
Transfer the bhindi onto a tray/plate lined with a paper towel and toss in the besan mix. User your hands to gently toss and cover as much of each slice with the mix as possible.
Set this aside for approximately ten minutes or until the bhindi has sweat and the besan mix clings to it.
After ten minutes of marinating in the masala, the bhindi should be as pitcured below – slightly wet to touch but not sloppy and watery so that all the marinade runs off. It should look like it’s been coated.
Heat up a heavy bottomed, wide faced pan. I used my cast iron skillet.
When ready, add oil and then tip in all the bhindi. If there is some loose masala left, keep it for later.
I love the crackling sound of food hitting hot oil! Turn and saute the okra for a few minutes until the besan starts cooking and changes color to a deeper yellow.
Once the masala is fragrant and the color deeper, lower the heat to medium add any remaining masala and cook covered for approximately 5 minutes. It will soften the bhindi since the moisture will be trapped, but it helps cook both the besan and bhindi.
Then uncover and cook on medium high heat for another 5 minutes, stirring to make sure nothing burns. Okra will crisp up – making it the karari, Kurkuri Bhindi that I so covet.
Great fresh and as a leftover – Kurkuri Bhindi for the win!
This dish is a great leftover. I love to have it right out of the fridge and bite into the crunch. Before serving I recommend heating it in the microwave for about 1 minute.
The day I made Kurkuri Bhindi, I cooked Sabut Masoor and both were enjoyed with fresh rotis.
- 1.5 lb Okra/Bhindi Preferably fresh.
- 3 tbsp Besan/ chickpea flour
- 1/2 tsp Red chilli powder Adjust to taste.
- 1 tsp Ground turmeric
- 1 tsp Coriander powder
- 1 tsp Salt Adjust to taste.
- Ground pepper A pinch or more to taste.
- 3-4 tbsp Olive oil Any other cooking oil.
- Wash and pat dry bhindi, continue to slice each piece into 4 strips. First cut the top and end of each piece.
- In a bowl, mix together besan and all the dry masalas including salt.
- Transfer bhindi onto a tray/plate lined with a paper towel and toss in the besan mix. Set this aside for approximately ten minutes until the besan mix clings to it. Let it marinate for 10 minutes. See note for texture.
- Heat up a heavy bottomed, wide faced pan. When ready, add oil and then tip in all the bhindi.
- Saute the okra for a few minutes until besan starts cooking and changes color to a deeper yellow. Lower the heat to medium, add any extra masala from the marinating tray and cook covered for approximately 5 minutes.
- Then uncover and cook on medium high heat for another 5 minutes, stirring to make sure nothing burns.
- Before serving I recommend heating it in the microwave for about 1 minute. Enjoy with rotis, paranthas or with rice and dal.
- After ten minutes of marinating in the masala, the bhindi should be slightly moist to touch but not watery. This is normal and helps the marinade stay on.