It’s time for okra with yogurt, folks. Yep! A recipe. A real one. With okra! But first!
No, I’m not going to insert a video of Danny Kaye as The Inspector General. I did that once before and it’s old now. So then what? How should boredom be achieved? Hmm.
I know! I’ll tell you about my surgery! In detail! With all of the background you were quite sure you didn’t want but which I usually give you anyway! No? You don’t want to hear about my surgery? It was a good one, you know! It made me see the light in a new light. Still no?
Sigh. Ok, then. Let’s talk about the recipe.
I first encountered this somewhere. I’m not sure where, but it must have been somewhere. I’m also not sure when, but of course, it must have happened at some time in the past. Well, it stands to reason, doesn’t it? If it was happening in the present I couldn’t be showing you pictures of the prep, the process and the product. And most certainly, I wouldn’t have a video of my hand engaged in part of the process.
What’s that? My hand? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s foregather in the foreground here and forever leave our .. hang on second! What the heck? I see wavy red lines under the word ‘foregather’. Why? It’s a word, I’m pretty sure. It’s probably word #14475 in my vocabulary of 15236. I’ll be right back.
Ok! I’m back and have sorted this out. Now, listen carefully as I explain this. Americans spell it without the ‘e’! Not foregathr! Not that ‘e’, the other one! They spell it ‘forgather’. Economical chaps, I say. They’ve got rid of the ‘u’ in many words like ‘colour’ and now have started on the ‘e’.
These constant interruptions are as painful for me as they probably are for you, I assure you. Indeed, you should count yourself very lucky indeed that I didn’t include a small dissertation on fine examples of slide guitar solos in rock music. In fact, I should be in the middle of the ingredients right now if it hadn’t been necessary to read, observe and listen with a keen ear.
Now, where was I? Yes, I was telling you about the recipe. It’s a recipe made with okra, (bhindi, if Indian from most of India). It has some spices and yogurt. And it has already been eaten, by me, so no point in asking me for a sample to taste.
So what is it? Technically, you could categorize it as a sort of raita, which is usually plain yogurt with assorted vegetables folded into it and doused with some tangy spices.
So let’s get on, shall we?
- Okra. (Fresh. Ain’t gonna work too good with dem frozen ones!)
- Salt. (Suit yourself as to amount. A little goes a long way, or words to that effect must be kept in mind.)
- Mustard seed. (Those little black pods you once bought and kept aside not knowing what to do with them. Well, you’re in luck!)
- Chilli powder. (I use red, because I was once brought up in India and this is the default setting.)
- Turmeric powder. (Meh. You could do without, but it’s good for you.)
- Plain yogurt. (Not Mishti Doi. If you don’t know what that is read this.)
- Oil to cook with. (Your choice. I don’t really care.)
- A wok, a pan or something to cook in. I normally use a copper bottomed kadhai, aka Indian wok. In this particular case, I used a cast iron, enamel coated thingy.
- Things to stir with.
- A bowl. (Smaller one for prep.)
- A tablespoon.
- Another bowl. (Bigger one for finished product.)
- Paper towels.
Heave a sigh of relief as you take the okra out of the bag.
Toss them into a colander and wash each pod thoroughly.
Now comes the tricky part. The drying process. This is the crucial, absolutely critical portion of the recipe. If you get this wrong, you will ruin it all and all that will be left to do is call me to eat up the mess.
Spread a paper towel on a flat surface. Make sure you have enough.
Now carefully take each individual okra pod and lay it down reverentially on the paper towel as shown in the photograph.
Note the relative positions of each pod must be within +/- 0.03135 mm of the one on either side of the pod. It may, therefore, be necessary to place some head to toe to ensure that tolerances are met. While air must be able to circulate between the pods, you don’t want them too far apart, otherwise, you’ll need a lot of counter space.
Logical! Economical! Nonsensical!
Now place another paper towel directly over the pods. You can gently pat it down to soak up some of the moisture.
Now go away and write something. Maybe a short story, a poem, a thesis. If you’re not a writer, there’s always TV or YouTube. Or read a book! I can recommend this lovely book by this little known Canadian chappie. Fresh, light, romantic, funny and well known in the West End, the west end of his basement.
<Two hours later>
Check the pods are dry. Are they? Yes? Ok! Onwards!
Cut the pods into small rounds. To do this, snip the heads off first then go down the pod cutting off bits of slim rings. Keep the rings.
At this point we have a decision to make. Do we keep the point ends or not? I personally think it’s a waste of taste to throw them out with the heads. Suit yourself.
Chuck the debris and keep the rings aside.
Take up the pan/wok/whatever you’re going to cook and set it up on the heat source, which is not mentioned in the Equipment List, but probably should have been, but it wasn’t and I’m far too lazy to go back and correct it.
Pour in some of that cooking oil. Not a lot, enough to fry or saute the okra.
Put in the mustard seeds and wait for them to start going pop, pop. <Digression Alert: There is this annoying song by the B52s that goes pop pop pop pop pop all through. Don’t listen to it!>
Now, we’re finally getting somewhere! Whew!
Onto the okra! Put the slim rings of okra into the pan and stir gently to coat with oil. Turn the heat down a bit for that thing there is a cast iron thingummy.
Ooops! Sorry, that’s the Guinness I got into while I was waiting.
Fry gently till it starts crisping up.
Add salt, chilli powder and turmeric. Stir gently and let it fry while you enjoy a hearty sip of the Guinness.
Now take the small bowl and drop in some plain yogurt into it. Ensure it looks just as pictured below.
Then, comes another critical bit of the recipe. So critical, in fact, that I have included video. You must “Stir the Yogurt“.
Watch the video for a demo. Spare no expense in this step. Watch the precise movement. The wrist angled, downwards at exactly 51.57342 degrees, but relaxed. The fingers do all the hardwork. Remember, the movements are anticlockwise. It may be necessary to make corrections going the other way.
It’s not a great video, I know. But hey, it gets the job done. Practice makes perfect, so you may want to try it out a few times to get the hang of it.
Next, take another gulp of the Guiness.
Realize, with regret, that you already quaffed the lot and there’s nothing left to do but inspect the okra and check if it is nice and crispy. Which it probably is.
Now find that big bowl we talked about earlier. In the Equipment section. There.. up there. Yes, that one.
Empty out the okra from the pan into the big bowl.
Scrape every last bit of okra goodness out.
Set pan aside and pick up the small bowl with the stirred yogurt.
Pour yogurt from the small bowl over the okra in the big bowl.
Fold the yogurt over and through the okra, gently!
You’re done and you didn’t even realize it.
Now go and wash up all the mess you made.
Call me over and I’ll help you finish the bowl. Ensure you have fresh, whole-wheat parathas (unleavened, griddle-fried bread, if not Indian / Pakistani / Bangaldeshi / Sri Lankan)