Sunday, January 22, 2012

Crispy okra fries

Crispy okra - the perfect dish to convert an okra hater to a okra lover. And if you love okra already, you will absolutely make this your go to recipe. A lot of Indian restaurants serve deep fried okra as a first course and it is positively delicious. On the menu it is called 'kurkuri bhindi' which translates to crispy okra. The crispness comes from deep frying of course, but this baked version comes pretty close and my dinner guests loved it when I served them as finger food with cocktails.

The key to getting a non-slimy okra dish is to make sure that the okra is super dry before you cut it and super fresh as well. I cut them into thin strips (I have noticed that the okra gets slimy when it is cut into slices), toss them in some oil and coat them in a light and dry tempura like coating with rice flour and spices. Then they are baked in a hot oven till they are crispy but not dry. If the okra is overcooked (and I have done it before, while trying to keep it warm in the oven), they become too dry and loose all their flavor. Also, too high temperatures tends to burn them off faster than cooking them. This is the perfect combination of heat, and spices which makes a truly delectable dish.

Crispy Okra Fries
1 ½ lbs okra
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons rice flour
1 teaspoon ajwain seeds
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder [I used more - hence the fries look too yellow]

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 °F.
  2. Trim the top of the okra and cut vertically down the middle. If the okra is thick, cut further into half lengthwise to get long strips. It is important to try to cut down the middle in order to keep the seeds intact.
  3. Transfer the sliced okra to a large bowl and toss with the 2 tablespoons canola oil.
  4. Make a spice mix with the rice flour, ajwain, cayenne, turmeric and salt and sprinkle evenly over the okra. This should be done after tossing with the oil, in order for the spice mix to stick to the okra. Mix well.
  5. Lay out on a large baking sheet as spread out as possible. Bake for 20 minutes. Toss and bake again for 20 more minutes. The okra should be crispy and a little bit chewy.
  6. Serve as a snack or as a side with rice and a curry.
Serves 3 as a side dish and 6 as finger food or an appetizer. If you are serving it as an appetizer, toss it at the last minute with some thinly slivered onions, tomatoes and chopped cilantro, dressed in lemon juice salt and pepper.

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