This easy Pakistani & Indian-style Bhindi Masala (Okra Curry) recipe consists of stir-fried (no slime!) 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!
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 okra. Just place it in a colander and rinse to defrost. Then use a paper towel to dry the okra so it doesn’t splatter when pan-frying. I also noticed I had to fry 2-3 minutes longer when using frozen okra.
How to Serve Okra Curry
Since this is a ‘dry’ curry, it’s usually served with roti, naan, or other bread.
Easy & Authentic Bhindi Masala (Okra Curry)
- 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 3/4 tsp 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.