Recipe Index

Okra Masala (bindi bhaji)

Serves 4


My favorite single-vegetable Indian dish is okra, simply enhanced with spices, onions and a touch of tomato. A complete meal with any Indian bread or rice, bindi bhaji reheats beautifully. For best results use the freshest okra you can find; pods should be firm and the tips snap off easily.


Ingredient tip: Amchur powder is an Indian specialty item, dried and powdered green mango that with a sharp, tangy kick. Lemon or lime juice can be substituted, or if you love tangy as much as I do, use both as they compliment the rich okra perfectly.


  • 1 pound fresh okra pods
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons water or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes or 2 diced, cored plum tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon amchur powder or 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice or both


1. Trim and discard any stems from the okra. Slice okra into 1 to 1/2 inch thick pieces. Heat the oil in a wok or large stainless steel skilled over high heat, add the mustard seeds, cover the wok and give it a gentle shake a few times. Once the seeds start to pop, immediately stir in the garlic and fry for 10 seconds. Add the onion and saute for 2 to 3 minutes until soft, then stir in the okra and fry for 2 minutes. Sprinkle on the garam masala, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt and stir fry for 2 minutes. Pour in 2 tablespoons of water and cover the wok. Turn the heat down slightly to medium-high.


2. With the wok covered, cook the okra for 12 to 14 minutes, occasionally uncovering and stirring the okra. A few times during the cooking check to see if the vegetables are sticking to the bottom of the wok; if so, add a tablespoon of water and stir. Cook the okra until it’s tender, softened and some of the natural sliminess has reduced slightly. Uncover, stir in the tomatoes and the amchur powder or lemon juice (or both) and fry for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently. Taste and season okra with more amchur or lemon juice if desired. Remove from heat and serve with bread or rice.