Updated: Jun 15
Despite the lure of living in a foreign country, immigrants like me have a longing for everything that reminds us of home. I often find myself clutching at things that are Indian, and something as simple as cooking with Indian vegetables can offer warmth and comfort to our tummies in more ways than one.
For the first 5 years of my life in Australia, I lived in the charming city of Perth. While I was grateful for the opportunity, it is also one of the farthest cities in the world surrounded by the ocean from all sides. So you can only imagine that finding fresh desi vegetables was a distant dream for me and others like me.
While some may find this very silly because one has to adapt to the country you adopt, eating & cooking food that you are familiar with becomes a coping mechanism for many. I once remember finding fresh baby Eggplants in the local market and how I danced with joy because I could add them in Sambhar, stuff them with Coconut or just fry them. Other vegetables like Bhindi (Okra), Suran (Elephant Yam), Lauki (Indian Marrow), etc. were only available in the frozen section of the local Indian grocery stores, and we all know that anything frozen can never compare to fresh food. So, I just lived many years missing the vegetables I had grown up eating.
However, Sydney is pretty different, and there is an abundance of fresh vegetables that I can get from @sydneymarkets to keep the desi in me content and happy. And on my fortnightly trips, I found some fresh Okra, which made my heart sing.
There are so many ways to make this but one of my favorites was is ‘Kurkuri Bhindi’ (crispy Okra), which I served with Rice, Dal, and raita. The key is to fry them in hot oil quickly so they don't become slimy and the resulting texture is crispy, delicious and so tasty. This dish is definitely going to become a part of a ‘impress the guest's menu.’ Do you miss your local vegetables if you are living away from home like me?
Recipe: (Cooking time 30 minutes)
500 grams okra (bhindi or lady finger)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon dry mango powder
1 teaspoon Garam masala
½ cup gram flour (besan)
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil to fry the okra
Rinse the okra in water and wipe each piece completely dry with a kitchen napkin. Ensure that the Okra is completely dry or you will have sticky Okra which is not nice.
Slice the okra into 4 pieces.
Mix all the spices together and sprinkle them on the Okra, gently ensuring each piece is coated with the spices.
Put the Gram flour on a large plate and put all the Okra in the plate and start coating the Okra in the flour. Let it rest for 15 -20 minutes.
When ready to cook, heat oil in a large wok or frying pan. Once the oil is hot, reduce the gas to a medium flame and then fry the okra in batches.
Do not be tempted to put all the Okra at one time.
Drain on a paper towel and serve hot.