"And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress and keep it". Genesis 2:15

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Masala Stuffed Okra Boats (No slime!)

Clemson Spineless Okra
Marmalade under the okra.

I like the Okra I grew this year, Clemson Spineless. It doesn't grow as tall as okra I have grown before, but is bushier and consequently has more blooms and pods. I pick the okra every day and store it in the fridge in a tupperware container lined with a paper towel. I only  have four okra plants, since it is not a family favorite, so it takes about three days to get enough for a family meal. I like it myself and have been trying to find ways that my family will eat it - other than breaded and fried.

The main objection to okra most people have, if it is not fried, is that it is slimy. I did some research and got the advice that if you do not want your okra to be slimy you have to carefully dry each piece before you cook it. I guess excess moisture contributes to the slime.  If you cook the whole fresh okra pods in a pan on top of the stove over low heat, with just a little oil, you will have no slime.

Most of the recipes I found on the internet for okra, that were not your traditional southern deep-fried, were from India! When I look for a recipe on the internet I usually find two or three for the same thing, then combine them into what suits my kitchen and ingredients on hand. I found a bunch of recipes for masala stuffed okra boats and came up with this recipe for me: (Masala is a paste made of a little tomato and a lot of spice. The mixture is first cooked to make the spices all fragrant, then it is used in various dishes.)

You need about 30 okra pods for 4 people. Cut your pods when they are 2 - 4 inches long.

Combine in a large fry pan on top of the stove:
One can of diced tomatoes and sweet onions, drained.
One-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped.
One tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander, and tumeric
1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes

Stir until thick, hot and fragrant.
Add one Tbls of lemon juice.
(The lemon juice is taking the place of one tsp of amchur powder (dried green mangos) because we did not have any! The amchur powder is for tanginess, so the lemon juice is O.K. Also missing is garam masala. Is this even masala without garam masala? I dont know, but it sure tasted good! When I get these ingredients, I will try this properly, but for now you can make it too with common ingredients.)

Take the pan off the heat and let the masala mixture cool a little. While this is cooling cut off the stems of each okra pod, and make a slit from the stem end up to the tip. Don't cut through the tip or the pod will split in half. Hold a pod in you left hand with your thumb holding open the slit you made in the pod. With you right hand use a butter knife to scoop up a tsp of the masala and fill your pod slits from wide (thumb) end to tip.

Beware! If you dont want yellow fingernails, wear some thin latex gloves! (Believe me.)

Save any left over spice mixture to season your main-dish meat. Put a little ( one Tbls. ) oil in the bottom of your same fry pan so as not to waste any of that spice. Turn the pan on medium low heat and add your okra. Cook covered, stirring carefully occasionally, for 15 - 20 minutes. Dont let the oil get sizzling hot. You dont want to brown the okra, just cook it until it is tender, but not mushy. No slime! This dish is sweet, tangy, flavorful and just a little spicy. Delicious! (And my family ate it, even though they are prejudiced against okra.)

Masala stuffed Okra Boats just starting to cook.

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