Idli are traditionally served for breakfast with various chutneys and a spicy lentil soup but I’m a rule-breaker. I had some okra to be used up and so I made stir-fried spiced okra to go with the idli. Many people think okra is “slimy”, but only if it’s boiled. Sauteed or stir-fried okra is tender and slime-free. Okra is so bountiful and inexpensive here in the summer I am always looking for new ways to cook it, and the combination of idli, chutney, and spiced okra was so light and delicious that I think I have found my go-to lunch for the rest of the summer.
Curry leaf may seem exotic but it’s easily found at any well-stocked Indian grocery store. If you can find a plant and enjoy Indian food, you should grow it yourself. Curry leaf is best used fresh but I never can use all of the leaves before they go bad. If you have the plant you can only pick what you need, which is rarely more than 5 leaves at a time. I haven’t found my own curry plant yet, but it’s on the “short list” for my garden.
Spiced Sauteed Okra
1 lb fresh whole okra
1 large bunch green onions or 2 small white onions, chopped
5 fresh curry leaves, sliced into thin “ribbons”
1 tsp whole coriander seed
2 dried red chilis, crushed, or 1/4 tsp crushed red chili
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1- 2 tbl oil
salt & pepper
First trim the stems off of the okra, but leave the “caps” as much as possible. Then slice the okra into 1/2″ pieces at a slight angle.
Heat a small saute pan or wok over medium heat. Add the oil and get it really hot-almost smoking. Add the mustard seed into the oil and swirl the pan off the heat until the mustard seeds start popping. Add the onion and stir-fry until the onion is nice and browned. The add the okra and stir-fry until the okra is lightly browned and cooked through, adding another tablespoon of oil if necessary. Then add the coriander, chilis, and curry leaf and stir until you can really smell the spices. Add salt and freshly-cracked black pepper to taste. Serve very hot!