I’ve always disliked okra because it is a slimy vegetable, making it unpleasant in dishes. But I have recently been taught a way of removing the slime before cooking a dish.
I rediscovered okra during a recent visit to Sri Lanka. On our first evening we were served an okra curry as a vegetable accompaniment with no other choices. I was disappointed, but when I ate it I was surprised – not only was it delicious, it was also ‘dry’. How did they do it, I asked the hotel manager?
Easy, so it seems. First wash the okra – I use a vegetable wash to remove any pesticides and fungicides as okra can quickly develop a black mould if left for too long (don’t store in the fridge), and I haven’t to date been able to source organic okra. Cut the okra into 2 cm pieces and toss in a little Himalayan pink salt. Then dry fry in a wok for 3 – 4 minutes over a high heat. The sticky liquid evaporates and leaves a dry residue on the sides of the wok. The okra is now ready to be used.
Okra, also known as lady’s fingers, is a strange vegetable. Related to cotton and the hollyhock, this tropical vegetable is the edible fruit of a variety of hibiscus. But Okra is also part of the anti-CanSur arsenal of nutritionally valuable vegetables.
Nutritionally, it is rich in folate - deficiencies of which are strongly linked to breast, prostrate and other hormonal cancers. It is also is a great source of lectin, a protein recently used in a study to treat breast cancer. Apart from folate, it is also rich in Vitamin K, calcium and magnesium, and is high in oligomeric catechins and flavonoid derivatives - antioxidants that are linked to a lower risk of cancer.
This curry is so easy and quick to make, almost a fast food as far as curries are concerned. You will need curry leaves for this, but don’t use dried curry leaves unless you have to as the favour is weak and they are expensive. I use a supplier on eBay, who sends them in the post and I pop them in the freezer to use as and when required. They are not expensive, but make such a difference to the finished dish.
I serve this with coconut sambol for a lovely Sri Lankan-themed meal.
1 large organic chicken breast, finely sliced
250g okra, prepared as above
120g organic baby spinach, washed
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 inch piece grated ginger
12 fresh curry leaves
½ tsp Himalayan pink salt (or to taste)
100 ml organic coconut milk
2 whole organic green chilli
4 pink organic shallots, roughly chopped or 1 medium red onion
2 cloves organic garlic chopped
** 1 cup Healing Intent
1. Lightly roast the fenugreek, mustard and cumin seeds and when beginning to pop add the chicken, prepared okra, other spices, onion, garlic, ginger, curry leaves, coconut milk, salt and chilli into a saucepan and stir well. Cook over a low heat for around 10-15 minutes until the okra is tender but not soft.
2. Stir the spinach into the sauce in handfuls until fully wilted. Add a little extra coconut milk if too thick. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve with steamed rice.