Easy & Authentic Bhindi Masala (Okra Curry)
This easy Pakistani & Indian-style Bhindi Masala (Okra Curry) recipe consists of stir-fried (slime-free!) okra enveloped in a savory onion and tomato curry. I’ve tested this dry Bhindi curry recipe countless times and I’m confident it will blow you away!
“This was so delicious I had to stop myself from eating it out of the pan! “Sarah
What is Okra?
Okra comes from a flowering plant that bears long, edible pods we know as okra (or bhindi). It’s consumed throughout the world and grows well in warm climates, which explains why it’s used so widely in parts of Pakistan & India.
To experience okra fully, you must try the Pakistani & Indian version of it. It’s savory, a little spicy, and gives the vegetable a whole new dimension.
How to Cook Okra without Slime
With okra comes slime. But rest assured, you’ll be getting rid of it. Here are some traditional Indian/Pakistani cooking techniques that ensure flavorful, slime-free okra:
- Make sure the okra is completely dry before you cut it into pieces. Either pat it dry on paper towels or let it air dry. This also prevents splattering while stir-frying.
- Lightly pan-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.
- Always keep the skillet uncovered. This helps the okra stay crispy and juicy at the same time.
- Lastly, choose good okra. Here’s the most important tip:
Look for small okra pods that are young when harvested. They’re usually the most tender and I’ve found they taste the best. Plus, there’s less slime in these smaller pods.
One thing I love about this okra curry is how healthy it is. Okra is high in soluble fiber, which helps to balance blood sugar levels. It also cleanses the intestines, feeds good gut bacteria, and it’s an excellent source of many other nutrients such as B vitamins and folate.
Plus, while some traditional recipes deep-fry the okra, we are lightly frying it using just enough oil to get rid of the slime but still keep the crisp flavor.
How to Cook Bhindi (Okra Curry)
In this method of making bhindi, first we fry the okra to reduce the slime. (I pan fry it to keep things healthier and less flammable.) Then, we set the okra aside and make the curry with plenty of sliced onions and tomatoes. Lastly, combine them both to get the most comforting, flavorful, okra curry.
Pro-Tips for cooking okra curry:
- Cut the okra so it’s in between 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch. It’s best not to slice the okra too thin as it can shrivel up and lose its juicy taste.
- Salt the okra while initially pan-frying it. This ensures maximum flavor in every bite.
- Be patient when sautéing the onions. They reduce down quite a bit and the caramelized onions give a beautiful flavor to this dish.
- I highly recommend using fresh okra, but you can also use frozen. Just place it in a colander and set aside to defrost. Then use a paper towel to dry the okra so it doesn’t splatter when pan-frying. Note that if you use frozen okra, you may have to fry 2-3 minutes longer (Step 2).
How to Serve Okra Curry
Easy & Authentic Bhindi Masala (Okra Curry)
- 1/4 cup neutral oil (such as grapeseed or avocado), plus more, as needed
- 1 lb (454 g) okra, (See Note 1 for frozen)
- 1 large (300 g) yellow onion (or red onion), quartered and thinly sliced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed, (optional)
- 1 tsp crushed ginger, (optional)
- 2 medium (200-225 g) tomatoes, cubed
- 1 tsp sea salt or table salt, divided
- 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 small green chili peppers (such as Thai/Bird's Eye Chili), stems removed and sliced
- 1-2 tbsp chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)
- 1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
- 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 1/4 tsp salt on the okra and mix. Set aside.
- Heat a wide-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once hot, add half of the chopped okra. Stir-fry the okra, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until the slime disappears and the okra starts to crisp and brown. 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. Repeat with the remaining batch. 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. Stir in the remaining 3/4 tsp salt, cumin seeds and spice powders (coriander, cumin, turmeric and red chili). The oil should start separating from the masala or base of the curry. Add the fried okra and green chili pepper. Sauté for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust salt.
- 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.