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Bhindi is the Hindi word for okra. While okra is commonly eaten in India, it is a vegetable that is underused in the American diet, except in the South. Due to my Caribbean parents, I grew up eating okra on a weekly basis. Haitian calalloo is okra stewed with meat and was one of my favorite dishes, as a child.
Whenever I eat at vegetarian Indian restaurants, my go-to dish is Bhindi Masala with Aloo Paratha. This is a version I made with paneer, to add to my Blogging Marathon theme. I created a spinach paratha recipe to go with it.
Bhindi Masala with Paneer
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon mustard oil
1 teaspoon dhana-jeera powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder (cayenne)
7 ounces paneer, cubed
14 ounces okra
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/8 teaspoon asoefetida
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 black cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seeds
salt, to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
Sprinkle turmeric, dhana-jeera powder, chili and salt over paneer cubes and toss.
Heat 2 teaspoons of mustard oil and brown paneer on all sides. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
In a large skiller, heat 1 tablespoon of mustard oil. Add mustard seeds. As soon as mustard seeds start to pop, add ginger and garlic. Fry for 1-2 minutes. Do not let the garlic burn.
Add okra, tomatoes, black pepper, asoefetida and cardamom.
|Submitted to Susan’s Black and White Wednesdays|
Cook for about 15 minutes, until okra is cooked through.
Add cilantro, cooked paneer and salt, to taste.
Stir to combine and cook for another 5 minutes.
Serve with Spinach Paratha and a cold refreshing Indian ale. I also had some leftover dahl from when I made the Indo-Mex tacos, which completed this Indian meal.
If you want to really create an authentic, Indian experience at home. Go to an Indian market and get a thali, which is a traditional round plate, where food is usually served on in South India and places like Nepal and Tibet. The individual food components are served in small bowls on the thali. In the NY area, you can get these at Patel Brothers supermarket or Bhutala Emporium (2 locations – one on 74th Street in the heart of Jackson Heights’ Little India across the street from Patel Brothers. The other location is on 28th Street, right off of Park Avenue in Manhattan).
Many assume all Indian food is spicy and are afraid to try it, however, not all Indian food is loaded with chile. India has many states and these states vary in their regional cuisines. There are tea or coffee drinking states and rice or paratha eating states. Similarly, not all Indian food is loaded with chile. Indian food can have the complex flavors of mustard, cardamom, coriander and others, without being loaded with chile, so that it can be enjoyed by those with lower pepper tolerance. This meal I created is a great marriage of the flavors of Indian cuisine, however the chile is kept to a minimum, so that it can be enjoyed by anyone.