Fried Okra in Smooth Yogurt
-Recipe from Yamuna mataji
Chilled yogurt salads are popular throughout India, and in Gujarati
homes they are served with almost every summer lunch. This became one
of my favorite dishes from the first time I tasted its delightful
combination of textures and flavors. Though the ingredients can be
prepared ahead of time, the salad is assembled just before serving.
Crunchy fried okra is added to a toasted chickpea flour and yogurt
sauce. The creamy sauce is seasoned with roasted cumin seeds and fresh
coriander or parsley, and finally garnished with a dash of paprika.
Since the okra softens as it sits in the sauce, and the chickpea flour
both thickens and darkens the color, it can also double as a creamy
room-temperature vegetable dish.
Preparation and cooking time (after assembling ingredients): about 30 minutes
Ghee or vegetable oil for shallow-frying
1 pound (455 g) okra, washed, thoroughly dried, trimmed and cut into 1/4 –inch (6 mm) slices (about 1 ¼ cups/300 ml)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) garam masala
¼ teaspoon (1 ml) paprika or cayenne pepper
½ table spoon (2 ml) ground coriander
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
2 cups (480 ml) plain yogurt, or 1 ¾ cups (420 ml) plain yogurt and ¼ cup (60 ml) sour cream
½ table spoon (7 ml) dry-roasted coarsely crushed cumin seeds
1 teaspoon (5 ml) chopped fresh coriander or parsley
3 table spoons (45 ml) sifted chickpea flour (sifted before measuring)
Pour the ghee or oil to a depth of 1 inch (2.5 cm) in an 8-inch
(20 cm) frying pan. Set over moderate heat, and when it is hot but not
smoking, add the sliced okra. Fry for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and
browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. While
the okra is hot, sprinkle it with garam masala, paprika or cayenne,
ground coriander and ½ teaspoon (2 ml) of the salt. Toss to mix.
Place the yogurt or yogurt and sour cream in a 1-quart/liter bowl
and add the remaining ½ teaspoon (2 ml) salt and all but ½ teaspoon (2
ml) each of the cumin seeds and fresh herbs. Whisk with a fork until
smooth and creamy.
3. Dry-roast the chickpea flour
in a small heavy pan over moderate heat, stirring constantly to prevent
scorching. When it darkens a few shades and smells nutty, transfer to a
bowl to cool.
4. If you do these steps 1-2 hours
ahead of assembling the salad, refrigerate the yogurt and leave the
okra uncovered in a 200 F (95 C) oven. Before serving, add the okra to
the yogurt, sprinkle with the chickpea flour, and gently stir. Transfer
to a serving dish or individual bowls, garnish with the remaining cumin
seeds and fresh herbs and a dash of paprika, and serve immediately.