comfort cooking zone

Life happens! As with all of us, it’s been busy and I haven’t had enough time to spend in my kitchen to whip up ‘signature’-level concoctions. When this happens, I tend to stay in my comfort zone and create a few dishes from home that learnt to make from my mom. It’s the food that I grew up eating – like this deliciously crispy Indian-style Spiced Roasted Okra. Of course, growing up, okra was not roasted in the oven; instead, it was stir-fried in a kadhai (Indian cast-iron or aluminum wok). Mom had a small cake oven in her kitchen back then, but it couldn’t be used for baking or roasting other stuff.

Indian-style Spiced Roasted Okra

This technique to make Indian-style Spiced Roasted Okra is my very own creation! It is a method that I started using after learning to roast vegetables, specifically cauliflower and potatoes, at cooking school. It seemed like a stress-free technique where I didn’t need to babysit the pan over the stove! So, I quickly adopted it into my weeknight cooking regimen and experimented with all kinds of classic Indian vegetables. It has proven to be a game-changer! The roasting method works like a charm for whipping up Indian-style spiced vegetables that are usually prepared over the stove by stir-frying with some basic spices, like this Bhendi/Bhindi Fry.

Love-Hate Relationship

Okra is one of those vegetables that sparks mixed reactions—some love it, and others hate it. People appreciate okra for its mild, grassy flavor and crunchy texture when cooked quickly on high heat. However, when cooked slowly, such as in a gumbo (a stew from the southern US state of Louisiana), it can become slimy or gooey, putting people off.

Indian-style Spiced Roasted Okra

Fixing Okra, the Indian way

Bhendi, as it is called in my mother tongue, Marathi or Bhindi in Hindi, okra is a very popular and a beloved vegetable in India. It is found in abundance throughout the country and is available almost all year round. With a slim green pod, a fuzzy skin and filled with creamy edible seeds, it’s a hearty, wholesome vegetable. But when you cut it open, okra exudes a glutinous, slimy juice that makes it a little less attractive for most cooks.

Here, in US, the most popular ways of making okra is either by deep frying it or using it in Gumbo. Deep frying takes the sliminess away where as in the Gumbo, they use the same juice as a thickening agent to enrich the stew.  Indians have a few different methods of fixing okra – we  sauté it, stir-fry it, deep fry it, curry it,  stuff it or add it to anything we like….the possibilities are unlimited!

Indian-style Spiced Roasted Okra

My Indian-style Spiced Roasted Okra

My go-to recipe to make with okra is the classic Indian Bhendi/ Bhindi Fry that I grew up eating. It is made by stir-frying thinly sliced rounds of okra in oil seasoned with basic spices and stir fried in a kadhai or wok on high heat. It is a rather quick & easy way to fix the sliminess and goes very well on the side of rotisdaal or rice. You can also cut the okra into sticks, by cutting along the length into quarters and use them in the recipe. They turn into Okra Fries that are perfect for healthy snacking!

Indian-style Spiced Roasted Okra

In my usual recipe, neatly diced okra slices are tossed in with some oil along with cumin, mustard, turmeric and red chili powder and roasted in the oven at a very high temperature. It is a great way to develop the same wonderful seared flavor that Indian homecooks achieve by stir-frying it in the kadhai!  The high heat of the oven gets rid of the sliminess,  leaving behind a subtly spicy smoky crispy okra concoction.

Indian-style Spiced Roasted Okra

I’ve linked a short video below that I put together for you that you can follow and easily whip up this signature concoction in your own kitchen.

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Indian-style Spiced Roasted Okra


  • Author: Vasanti

Description

An easy, fuss-free technique to make Indian-style spiced okra, aka bhendi/bhindi/lady’s finger by tossing with oil and spices and roasting it on high heat in the oven.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 lb fresh okra (see FAQs & Notes + Variations)
  • 23 tbsp neutral cooking oil
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 pinch asafetida
  • 1 tsp red chili powder, or to taste
  • fresh cilantro/coriander, finely chopped for garnishing

Special Equipment

  • Baking sheet
  • Aluminum foil, optional for easy clean up

Instructions

  • Preheat oven 400°F (200 °C).
  • While the oven preheats, slice the okra into ¼-inch (½ cm) thick slices (see Variations). 
  • Transfer it to an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Drizzle oil over the okra. 
  • Sprinkle salt, mustard and cumin seeds along with turmeric, asafetida and red chili powder and toss to combine well.
  • Spread it into an even layer over the baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, tossing half way through. Roast for additional 5-10 minutes, if you prefer it more charred and crispy. 
  • Take the baking sheet out of the oven.
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot with rotis, chapatis or dal and rice.

Keywords: Weeknight Cooking, Quick & Easy, Healthy Recipes, Oven Roasting

Step-by-Step Details

Recipe FAQ’s and Notes

Can I use frozen cut okra that's available in the grocery store?

I recommend using fresh okra and slicing it into thin rounds or sticks, but if you have frozen one, it may not turn as crispy as the fresh one but will work just fine.

How to spot the freshest okra?

When buying fresh okra at the supermarket, make sure that they are a bright green color, firm to touch and look crisp and curve slightly at the narrow tip of the end. Choose stems that snap cleanly and don’t bend.

Recipe Variations

Cut the okra into sticks, by cutting along the length into quarters and use them in the recipe. They turn into Okra Fries that are perfect for healthy snacking!

Turn the volume up by adding diced potatoes and onions to the sliced okra. Follow the recipe as is

Happy cooking
Vasanti

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Hi I’m Vasanti
…and I ❤️cooking ‘n clicking!!
I share a modern take on Indian cuisine made using nontraditional techniques and ingredients, while staying true to its authenticity. You’ll also find classic recipes from my beloved Maharashtrian culture and heritage.



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