Apr 21, 2011

Business of being busy and an easy okra stir fry

This week has been busier than usual for me. Since it is Easter this Friday, the kid’s school had an Easter egg hunt on Monday. For the uninitiated, the hunt involves each kid carrying about a dozen candy filled plastic eggs to school and handing them over to the teacher. The teacher collects all the eggs, scatters them in the playground and lets the kids loose to hunt for a dozen eggs. One hopes that the kid doesn’t come back with the same eggs he turned in the first place. I ended up filling up two dozen of the multicolored ovals, because the kid got invited to a friend’s backyard Easter egg hunt the very next day.
 Eggs, eggs and more eggs.

Maybe it’s just me, but the last thing a five year old needs is two dozen candy filled eggs. Thankfully, my kid cares only for the occasional bouncy ball that may find its way in one of the eggs. The candy, he just dumps out or shares it with his friends.
If two Easter egg hunts weren’t exciting enough, we finally finished staining and filling up the 6x6 sandbox that he finished building last week. It had been sitting empty for almost a week before our good neighbors helped us haul 33 bags of sand back home. After an hour of hauling and emptying the 50 lb bags, the sandbox was full, the kid was happy and we were exhausted.
Yes, it is as big as it looks! (6X6)
No dinner was cooked that day. We had some eggs and bread, the kid a rava bhakri, which will be a post for another day. Today, after another exhausting day of dentist appointment, bathroom cleaning and carting the kid to and fro from school, the dinner was simple. The kid had dosas with leftover dal from the morning. He got a vegetable Panini for me from his office canteen which I had with some guacamole that he made and a few asparagus that I stir fried on the skillet.

For him, I made bhendi chi kurkurit bhaji (stir fried crispy okra). I say for him, because I have never liked the slimy vegetable, even though it turns crunchy and not-at-all-slimy when cooked to a crisp on slow to medium flame. But he likes it, so every so often I will pick up a bunch of okra for him. He likes it with a little bit more oil than usual and with lots of caramelized onions. So that’s how I make it.

Bhendi, Bhindi, Okra, ladyfinger. A cross-section of the slimy veggie

Do you see a pattern here that I mentioned in my last post, about doing things for each other? Though I have to admit, cooking okra this way is ridiculously simple, with just red chili powder and salt to spice it up. However, I am told that the sweetness of the caramelized onions and the crisp bite of the okra is a divine combination. My brother and sister swear by it and so does my better half. So, I give you bhendi chi kurkurit bhaji, which loosely translates to crispy stir fried okra.
I do have a few tips at the end of the post to get the crisp okra that is so desired but so easy to mess up into a slimy sludge. So do read them carefully before you go chopping and stirring some okra and onions in your pan.
Bhendichi Kurkurit Bhaji
1-2 tblsps oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1 cups of chopped onion, preferably red
2 cups of okra, cut into thin circles or slim stripes
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a wide pan and add the mustard seeds. As they start to sputter, lower the heat, add the turmeric powder and stir. Quickly add the red chili powder and the chopped onions, followed by the okra.
Our goal here is to minimize stirring in order to prevent possible sliminess that may occur. Sprinkle salt to taste, gently stir everything and cook uncovered on medium low flame for 20-25 minutes or till cooked through and crispy. Stir in between as needed. Serve with chappatis, dal and rice.

Try to stir the okra as little as possible. The more you stir, the slimier it will get.
Do not and I repeat, Do Not, cover the pan at any stage of cooking the okra. It will get slimy.
Try to use a pan with a bigger surface area so as not to crowd the okra and subsequently steam it. The less crowded it is, the less slimy it will be.
Don’t put any water or liquids of any sort in the pan.


  1. HI
    thats really a busy day..
    and I love this crispy okras.

  2. I soooooo need that sandbox, I guess, I am going to get one before summer starts. And that kurkurit bhaji looks just awesome :)

  3. Our week has been hectic as well. But it feels so much better since today is a holiday for us. YAY! The kid had his egg hunting today and I had to make sure he does not eat those candies. Argh! Agree with you these are unnecessary temptations for the kids. How have you all been?
    I did not know that this was referred to as Kurkurith bhaji. More then anybody the kiddo loves okra this way and could eat it everyday :-)

  4. Tell me about all those eggs. Every year I go buy 2 dozens of them. One for each kid and lucky me they cancelled the egg hunt itself this year. That sand box looks awesome. But I don't like sandboxes for the mess they make every where. Good luck with that.

  5. Thanks Raksha and Nivedita.

    Priya, you should get one. My kid has so much fun playing in it. He can spend hours in it if I let him.

    Supriya, did not realize S loves okra. Will try to make it for him next time you visit. We have to set up a play date for them to play in the sandbox anyway. It has been a while since we met.

    Champa, this year I did not buy any eggs. I recycled what I had left over from last year and a bag I brought during the end of Easter sale. Yes, the sandbox does make a mess, but I hose the kid outside before giving him a bath. I ge so much done while he plays in it and best of all he is not in front of the TV.

  6. delicious okra curry and it is lots of fun for the kids in the sandbox that is nice big one :)

  7. I miss the kurkurit bhaji, mostly because the only okra I can usually get here is the frozen, slimy kind. This bhaji-- which my mom would make for me as a kid-- was the reason okra became my favorite vegetable at a very young age. I am looking forward to summer. A friend gave me some Indian okra seeds and I can't wait to grow 'em!
    Thanks for demystifying the Easter Egg Hunt. I've always wondered about that. :)

  8. Despite it being green, it looks colourful to me! I love them fried rather crispy - sometimes if you use crystal salt, bits of it don't melt and provides a most delicious crunch.

  9. I hate making bhindi and almost never make it myself. That said, this is the only way I eat bhindi, provided someone else is making it.

  10. @Torevietoranto, thanks. It is not a curry though being dry in nature. :)

    @Vaishali, I am curious to know how those okra seeds turn out. Never thought of growing an okra plant.

    @Sra, thank you girl. I love the idea of salt crystals. Though I don't eat the sabzi myself I am sure T will love it.

    @Aqua, you don't say. Come on over and I will make it for you. :) Though, okras sliminess while cutting it is the reason I don't like to make it often.

  11. I've always eaten Bhindi like this as a kid, and somehow never seem to get the 'kurkurit' part right when I make it myself. I think I should let the Bhindi dry for a while and then proceed to cut them. Will also keep in mind not to stir too much. Thanks for the wonderful recipe, this is going to be my Saturday lunch :)

  12. Aditya, let me know how it turns out. Another tip, besides dry bhindi: cut it lengthwise into four or five strips instead of rounds. It not only cuts down the slime but saves time too. :-)


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