Bhindi Masala is a popular Indian recipe wherein Bhindi/okra is cooked an onion tomato masala till it softens. It pairs well with flatbreads or as a side dish served alongside rice and lentils. It is a One Pot Dish, naturally Vegan and Gluten Free.
What is bhindi?
Bhindi or Okra Recipe is a preparation of Okra with onion, tomato and a few vibrant spices. Okra or Bhindi (in Hindi) is a green pod generally a finger’s length in size (often called Lady’s Fingers for this reason).
It is seasonally prepared in multiple parts of India and is enjoyed as daily staple to festive delights. This recipe is specific to Northern part of the country and is slowly taking a global stage!
How to make Bhindi?
To prepare this Bhindi, wash the Okra and then dry it completely. (Drying is the most important bit!) Discard the head and ½ inch of the tail of every okra. Then chop them into ⅓ of an inch size.
Stir fry bhindi in some oil to remove slime from okra and cook it prior to adding to the masala. Just like we pre-cook cauliflower here in this Aloo Gobi Recipe.
Next we will make an onion-tomato based masala (semi dry gravy). To flavor the masala, we are adding a few spices like coriander powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and red chili powder to it.
After the masala is well cooked, we will let the pre-cooked bhindi to finish off cooking in this masala.
- Okra – Use fresh if you can find it and choose medium sized ones. 4-6cm in length. Large ones stay hard in texture even after cooking and smaller ones have not developed full flavor.
- Onion – Chop it fine if you just want the texture of Okra to come through. But you can also chop some/all of the onion into ¾ inch thin slices. That way onion will retain a soft bite after okra is cooked and its sweetness will compliment the spices wonderfully.
- Ginger and Garlic – I have used grated ginger and chopped garlic here. You can also pot for ginger garlic paste.
- Tomatoes – 2 small sized. Or 1 medium would just be enough. Use fresh and Ripe tomatoes chopped into small pieces.
- Spices: We are adding Coriander Powder, garam masala and turmeric powder here.
- Red Chili Powder – You will only need ½ a teaspoon of red chili powder. You can also substitute it with kashmiri red chili powder. It is a less spicy variant which is majorly used for the bright red color it provides. If you are using Kashmiri chili powder and want your Bhindi to be spicy, you can add one chopped green chili along with ginger.
- Amchoor (Dried Mango) Powder – If you don't have it on hand, you can also use lime or lemon juice instead.
- Asafoetida powder – Only a pinch of it is needed. Avoid using it if you want your okra to be gluten free. Or use gluten free asafoetida.
Steps to follow:
This is a very easy stir fry recipe made with minimal ingredients. Quick Note: If you are not a fan of tomatoes in your bhindi, you can totally skip those. Squeeze lots of lemon juice while serving the bhindi if you choose to skip tomatoes though.
- STEP 1 – Take two tablespoons oil in a wok/pan and heat it up. Add chopped okra and give it a quick stir.
- STEP 2 – Cook okra in the pan for 6-8 minutes without covering. Okra will be almost cooked at this time. Take it out of the pan
- STEP 3 – Add Cumin and let it crackle. Then add in chopped garlic and sauté it till golden brown.
- STEP 4 – After the onion starts changing color in about 3-4 min, add finely grated ginger. Stir regularly.
- STEP 5 – Once Onion gets golden brown in color, add tomatoes. After a minute or two, add coriander powder, turmeric powder and red chili powder, salt and garam masala to the mix. Cook the masala till tomatoes are mushy.
- STEP 6 – Now add back in the cooked Okra to pan. Mix everything gently but thoroughly.
- STEP 7 – Keep the heat at low- medium, cover the pan/wok with a lid and cook for 8-10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- STEP 8 – Once you feel the okra is almost done, sprinkle amchoor powder on it. Mix and cook for 2 min more. Take the pan off the flame. Serve it hot.
Pro tips to make perfect bhindi every time:
- Check the freshness of Okra: To check if the Okra is fresh, try breaking its lower tip and it should break easily without any resistance.
- Pan to use: You could also use stainless steel pan or a non-stick pan to reduce chances of Okra sticking to it and turning slimy.
- Drying the okra prior to chopping: Water is the biggest enemy of Okra. Be it at cutting stage or at cooking stage. Thus, drying the Okra well after washing is the key. You can pat dry them with a kitchen towel or cotton cloth. Then leave them on a plate or a rack in the open to dry out naturally.
- Chopping Okra: Cut Okra into ⅓ of an inch size in round shape. Cut it too small and the seeds will come out, making a sloppy mess. Too large and it’ll be a little difficult to cook without the lid.
- Also, while cutting, keep a check on the seeds. There are times when small worms may have infested the Okra.
Should okra be covered while cooking?
Preferably not when you stir fry it in oil. As we are avoiding any water in our Okra, water vapor evaporating from it while cooking will be trapped by the covering lid. This can lead to condensation and accumulation of water in okra. So don't cover it while stir frying.
But after adding almost cooked okra to onion-tomato masala, you can cover an cook it for a few minutes to kind of blend all the flavors together.
Remember to open the lid often and stir the okra in between to avoid it from sticking.
We’ve also cut our Okra into small-medium size which will cook well even without the lid. Covering the Okras might also be alright if you are making a gravy-based dish like Dahi wali Bhindi. But in dry preparation, cook it without lid for slime free Bhindi.
Serving and Storing Suggestions:
Serve your Okra with freshly made chapatis (added ghee if you like it) or pair it with hot rice and dal for a comfort meal.
It also goes great with parathas. If you add a cup of tea alongside, there is no better way to start the day! This bhindi recipe is also travel friendly and can be packed into tiffin for office or outdoor lunch.
Store it in a clean, dry, airtight container in the fridge and it’ll last 3-4 days easily.
Primary reason could be your Okra didn’t dry well before cutting. Or while cutting, the knife wasn’t sharp enough, thus it bruised the skin and seeds. Overcooking, stirring it rigorously or putting on the lid when you’re making a dry Bhindi could also be the reason. Adding all the salt in the beginning and avoiding amchoor (Dry Mango) powder/lemon juice could also cause it to become slimy.
Try this pan frying the okra for 6-8 minutes method and then add it in the onion-tomato mix. Okra won't turn slimy that way!
Simple answer would be, yes! During the long journey from the farms to stores to our homes, dirt and impurities have a good chance to stick on it. It is better to wash the okra well and dry (more important) it before chopping
Usually if Okra is handled roughly and then stored compactly, it starts turning black in color. Also, if it has been exposed to water and then stored without drying properly, they could develop black spots or turn blackish in color.
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- 1 Wok/Pan with lid
- 4 Tablespoons Oil
- 1 Pound Okra
- 1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 1 and ½ Teaspoons Garlic
- 1 Teaspoon Ginger
- 1 small Yellow Onion (even red onion can be used)
- 1 medium Tomato
- 1 and ½ Teaspoons Coriander Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Turmeric powder
- ¼ Teaspoon Garam Masala
- ½ Teaspoon Red Chili Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Amchoor Powder
- Rinse okra well with water and wipe each one of them individually with a kitchen towel. Spread okra on cotton towel over counter top for some time to allow them to dry out completely.
- Now discard the tip and also the tail of each okra (around ½ inch from both ends) and chop them in round shape. I like to keep them around ⅓ of an inch thick.
- Also chop onion, tomato and garlic. Grate some ginger and set it all aside.
Stir Frying the Okra:
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok/pan over medium high heat and add chopped okra to it. Give okra a quick stir and allow it to cook, uncovered for 6-8 minutes. The okra will turn dark green, slightly crisp and almost cooked at this point. Stir frequently!
- Now remove okra in a plate/bowl and set it aside.
Making the Onion-Tomato Masala:
- Now in the same pan, over medium heat, add the remaining oil and add cumin seeds when the oil gets heated. Allow cumin seeds to crackle then add chopped garlic.
- When the garlic is sauteed, add onions. Stir and sauté them for a while. Now add in grated ginger and continue to cook onions till they get golden brown in color and soften. About 5-6 minutes.
- Next goes in chopped tomato and also add the following spices--Coriander Powder-Garam Masala-Turmeric Powder-Red chili Powder-Salt
- Give the masala a good mix and continue to cook tomatoes till they get mushy and the masala gets thick. About 4-5 minutes. Remember not to keep masala too runny. We don't want much moisture in the masala when we add okra to it.
- Now add in pre-cooked okra (bhindi) and set the heat to low. Mix the okra well with the masala and cover the pan with lid. Continue to cook for 8-10 minutes on low heat and allow all the flavors of spices to blend in with bhindi.Stir in between to avoid the okra from sticking to the bottom of the pan/wok.
- Now open the lid and cook for another 1-2 minutes to allow the remaining moisture to evaporate out of okra. Sprinkle dry mango powder and cook for about a minute or two.
- Serve hot with Indian flatbread or as a side with lentils and rice.
- Don't skip drying the okra well before chopping and stir fry it uncovered for slime free bhindi.
- Dry Mango Powder: It can be replaced with fresh lemon/lime juice. Squeeze it right before serving the okra.
- Onion: You can slice onion in ¾ of an inch thin slices too instead of chopping them small. That way onions retain a little more texture and bite to them after okra is cooked.
- Tomato: You can even skip tomatoes and cook bhindi in just onion, ginger and garlic masala. Increase the quantity of mango powder by ½ teaspoon if required.