Monday, 29 April 2013

My Bhindi Bhaji

If you've never had Okra (Bhindi) then you're seriously missing out. Until I lived in London I had no idea what this strange but ultimately delicious vegetable was. Now I pick them up whenever I can from the local market, speciality deli's or certain supermarkets.

They're long and thin like green chillies, but with a star shape to them. They're slightly fury and unlike anything you've seen before. So they're not just great to eat but look amazing too. It's the perfect accompaniment to a curry, be it hot or not.

This is my own recipe and I wouldn't change it for anything. Don't be scared of the amount of spices in this dish. These are all unique and add a flavour of their own. However, once together you will be blown away by the incredible dish you've created. (You can actually use this spice paste as the base for most curry dishes, just add tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, yoghurt, or water and pretty much any veggies or meat you wish).

Authentic Bhindi Bhaji

What you're going to need:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • Thumb sized ginger, pureed
  • 2 large cloves garlic, pureed
  • 2 or 3 birds eye chillies (red or green, these are small but potent), finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 500g Okra (more famously known as Lady Fingers), roughly chopped in 2cm lengths
  • 2 ripe tomatoes chopped into segments (like an orange)
  • Fresh coriander, chopped and whole
How you're going to make it:
  1. Start with a heavy based pan / pot and get your ingredients ready.
  2. Heat the oil in the pan / pot for 1 minute until hot (not boiling).
  3. Add the cumin seeds and roast them for 30 seconds – 1 minute.
  4. Next add the chopped onion and brown (roughly 5 – 10 minutes).
  5. Once a light shade of brown, add the ginger and garlic puree as well as the finely chopped chillies.
  6. Fry for another 2 – 3 minutes.
  7. Add the spices (turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, garam masala) and fry for 2 minutes.
You should have a lumpy paste at this stage
  1. Next, add the chopped Okra and fry in the paste for roughly 5 minutes before adding the chopped tomato. At this stage the tomato juices will coat the spices and create a little sauce. (Add a little water if the spices start to catch)
  2. Lastly, add some chopped coriander and dish up in a side dish / bowl.
  3. Sprinkle with fresh whole leaf coriander

Don't forget these useful techniques:

Fixing your chopping board: Wet a kitchen clothe and place it, folded, on your counter with a heavy chopping board on top. this should fix your chopping board in place to let you get on with chopping.

Spices: Because all the spices go in at the same time you can pre-measure these and put them aside. This avoids one spice going into the recipe and burning while you're measuring off the other spices. (It's very important to cook the spices for the same amount of time).

To Puree: Finely chop your ginger and garlic (keep them separate). Once chopped take your large blade knife and flatten the chopped ginger and garlic with one end pushing down away from yourself at a very acute angle to the chapping board. Keep doing this until the chopped ginger and garlic forms a juicy paste.