This Pakistani/Indian Bhindi is a traditional Okra Curry recipe made of stir-fried okra enveloped in a savory onion and tomato curry. This is a quick and easy, naturally gluten-free and vegan curry that’s been tested-and-perfected to ensure a perfectly balanced, unforgettable taste.
This Okra curry is also called Bhindi Pyaaz, or bhindi do pyaaza, which literally translates to ‘okra with 2 onions’. This okra recipe is unique in that it uses a larger quantity of onion than typical. But rest assured, the onions reduce down and caramelize beautifully, adding a deep, balanced flavor to this dish. You simply won’t look at okra the same way.
How to Cook Okra
Okra can seem like a tricky (and somewhat boring) vegetable to cook, but traditional Indian and Pakistani cooking takes it up a notch. There are a couple of tricks that are key to making okra taste so good:
- Look for small okra pods that are young when harvested. It’s usually the most tender and tastes the best. Plus, there’s less slime!
- Make sure the okra is completely dry before you stir-fry it to prevent any splattering.
- Lightly fry the okra in medium-high or high heat (depending on your stovetop) to help get rid of the slimy texture. Be patient with this – don’t overcrowd the pan and cook in batches – and you’ll be rewarded with crisp, non-slimy okra.
- Salt the okra while cooking it or even beforehand. This ensures maximum flavor in every bite.
I’ve served it here with my Life-Changing Gluten-Free Quinoa Flour Rotis.
One thing I love about this okra curry is how healthy it is. While some traditional recipes deep-fry the okra, we are lightly frying it in just enough oil to get rid of the slime but still keep the crisp flavor.
Also, okra is high in soluble fiber, which helps to balance blood sugar levels. It cleanses the intestines and feeds good gut bacteria, which means it’s a great detox food. It’s also an excellent source of many other nutrients such as B vitamins, folate, and other vision protecting compounds.
Tips for cooking okra curry:
- Cut the okra so it’s in between 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch. Of course, this isn’t an exact science but it’s best not to slice the okra too thin as it can shrivel up and lose its juicy taste.
- Be patient when sautéing the onions. They reduce down quite a bit and the caramelized onions give a beautiful flavor to this dish.
- I love using plenty of tomatoes in okra curry. Feel free to reduce the tomatoes to taste.
- Sometimes I skip garlic and ginger in this curry, but I do love it with a small amount and have kept it optional.
- Always keep the skillet uncovered. This ensures the okra stays crispy and juicy at the same time.
More Vegan Curry Recipe Ideas:
Pakistani Bhindi (Okra Curry in Onion & Tomato Masala)
- 1/4 cup neutral oil (such as grapeseed or avocado) plus more, as needed
- 1 lb okra
- 1 large (or 2 small) (300 g) onions thinly sliced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed (optional)
- 1 tsp crushed ginger (optional)
- 2 medium (200-225 g) tomatoes cubed
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/4-1/2 tsp red chili powder
- 1-2 green chili peppers stems removed and sliced
- 1-2 tbsp chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
- 1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice optional
- Wash and dry the okra. Chop the okra into 1/2-3/4 inch pieces, discarding the stems. The easiest way to do this is to line a few of them up and cut them at the same time. Sprinkle up to 1/4 tsp salt on the okra and mix. Set aside.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once hot, add half of the chopped okra. Stir-fry the okra, in two batches, for about 4 minutes or until the slime disappears and the okra starts to crisp. I like to sprinkle a bit more salt on the okra here. Use a slotted spoon to remove the okra from the pan and set it aside. Remove the pan from heat, and wipe clean to remove any excess seeds, if needed.
- Heat another 2 tbsp of oil over high heat and add the onions. Sauté until the onions turn golden, about 10 minutes. If the onions start sticking to the bottom of the pan, deglaze with a tablespoon or 2 of water. And add the garlic and ginger, if using, and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the cubed tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes soften, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining salt, cumin seeds and spice powders (coriander, cumin, turmeric and red chili). Mix well and add the fried okra and green chili pepper. Sauté for a minute or two.
- Lower the heat and allow the okra to simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of lemon, if desired. This dry curry is typically served with roti, naan, or other bread but can also be eaten as a side with rice.