There Are Really Only Two Ways to Cook Okra

When the weather gets hot, okra’s ready for the picking. A lot of people know okra for its prominence in Southern cuisine. But there are a lot of other hot and steamy places on the planet, and their residents also go wild for the stuff, too. From India to the southern states, there are two main ways to cook okra, and we tried both.

Bhindi masala

We are all about a spicy Indian stew, and same goes for this preparation where okra is the star of the show. Give it a try!

¾ cup jasmine rice
7-8 ounces fresh okra
2 inches ginger root
4 cloves garlic
2 medium yellow onions
1 teaspoon cumin
1 jalapeño or serrano chile pepper
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon coriander
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

Cook rice
In a small pot, combine rice, 1¼ cups water, and ¼ teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir once, reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and simmer until water is fully absorbed, 10–12 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand, still covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork, then cover again to keep warm until ready to serve.

Prepare ingredients
While rice cooks, rinse okra, pat very dry with paper towel, and cut crosswise into ¼-inch pieces. Trim and discard skin of ginger and mince. Mince garlic. Peel onions, halve, and thinly slice. Rinse jalapeño and halve lengthwise; using a knife tip, discard seeds and stem, then mince.

Recipe tip: okra can seem a bit slimy when cut. Don’t worry; this is completely normal. It helps thicken the dish and won’t affect its texture after cooking.

Fry aromatics
Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large high-sided pan over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add turmeric, cayenne pepper, garam masala, coriander, ginger, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add onions and jalapeño and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8–10 minutes.

Sauté okra
Add okra to pan with aromatics and sauté, stirring, until dark and shiny, 5­–6 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until warmed through and flavors have melded, 8–10 minutes more. Serve with rice for an easy veggie-heavy seasonal dinner.

Fried okra

Now, we’re traditionalists, too, so this spotlight wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the American South—which yes, means we’re deep-frying. Cornmeal-battered okra is a must on the side of any meat-n-three platter.

7-8 ounces okra
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup buttermilk

Prepare ingredients
Rinse okra, pat very dry with paper towel, and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces. In a large bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper as desired.

Dip and dredge okra
Pour buttermilk into a separate large bowl. Dip okra in buttermilk, allowing excess to drip off. Dredge in seasoned flour, pressing to adhere. Place on a plate until ready to fry.

Fry okra
In a large high-sided ovenproof pan, pour enough canola oil to reach about 1–2 inches up sides of pan, then place over medium-high heat. When oil reaches 350ºF (a kitchen thermometer is your friend here!), take 1 slice okra, shake off excess flour, and carefully add to pan. If it sizzles immediately, keep going; if not, try again once the oil is hotter. Fry all okra, working in batches to avoid crowding the pan, until golden, 2 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

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