Okra curry (Bhinda nu shak)

Some of my older readers will remember this old fashioned recipe when our mums used to cook on Jikos/sagdis (A kind of a stove) using charcoal.  It took a bit longer to cook the food but the taste of the food was always amazing.  This was the time before you got processed foods and tinned foods. Nowadays most people use tinned tomatoes in their curries whilst our mums always used fresh tomatoes.  Anyway – I digress.

As some of you may know – I live out in the sticks where we don’t get  Indian vegetables like okra (Bhinda).  The local supermarket sometimes sells okra but they are never fresh and tender.  My lovely sister in law had bought a big batch of fresh and tender okras for us.  Okra is one vegetable that you can’t freeze well.  When chopped-it’s quite sticky and freezing it makes it even stickier.  My blog has two recipes for Okra- stuffed okra and okra curry in a jiffy .  Both these are my husbands favourite recipes and I make them often.  However, I was longing to make this simple okra curry like the one my mum used to make and I decided to make that today.   My brother in law loves the curry made using my mum’s recipe so Jijaji…this one is for you.

Ingredients for two servings

  • about 40 tender okras
  • 4 tbs oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilly powder (or less if you don’t like hot food)
  • 2 tsp ground dhana jeeru ( a mixture of coriander and cumin ground into a powder)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic mashed in a garlic press
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional)


1.  Wash the okras in cold water and dry each and every okra individually using a kitchen towel or kitchen paper.

2.  Cut the top and tail of each okra and discard it.  Cut the rest of the okra into small round pieces. Tip: your hands and the knife will get sticky so keep kitchen paper handy to wipe your hands and the knife. Once you finish chopping all the okra – rub some salt in your hands and wash them to stop them feeling sticky. 

3.  Transfer the okra into a dry saucepan.  Add the salt, turmeric, chilly powder, meshed garlic  and dhana jeeru to the okra and mix well.

4,  Heat the oil in a small saucepan and add the mustard seeds to the oil.  Once the mustard seeds stop popping, add them on top of the chopped okras and stir.

5.  Cover the okra with a metal plate and add some water on top of the plate.   I used a steel plate to cover my saucepan and added some water on the plate.   This is the method my mum used to slow cook a lot of the curries she wanted left dry.  Allow the okra to cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes and check and cook until the okra feels soft and cooked.  Do not allow any water formed on the bottom of the plate during condensation to fall in the curry.

6.  This way the okra curry cooks on a low heat without loosing any moisture.  Once cooked discard the plate covering the saucepan.

7.  Curry cooked on  slow heat over 20-30 minutes tasted a lot better than one cooked in 2-3 minutes zapped in the microwave.  The okras get cooked and reduced and makes just enough curry for two people.  You can add a dash of lemon juice to the curry if, like me,  you like a slight lemony taste.  Eat the curry hot with chappatis.


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