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30-Minute Vegan's Taste of the East
by Mark Reinfeld & Jennifer Murray

(Bhindi Masala)
Okra originates in the tropics, and its name is of West African origin. Also called "lady fingers" for its unique shape, okra is one of the most popular veggies in Western India. It has a gelatinous texture that some people require getting used to. Persist beyond this and you will be treated to a true culinary delicacy. As was noted earlier, masala is of South Indian origin and refers to a mixture of spices; here we use the curry spices and garam masala. Serve as a side dish.
Serves 4 To 6


· 2 tablespoons sesame oil
· 1 teaspoon ground cumin
· 1½ teaspoons curry powder
· 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
· 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
· 2 teaspoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
· 1 large onion, chopped (1½ cups)
· 4 cups chopped okra, tops removed (½-inch)
· 1 cup water
· 1 large tomato, chopped (1 cup)
· 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
· 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
· 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
· Pinch cayenne
· 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


1. Place the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the cumin, curry powder, and chile powder and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Add the okra and water and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomato and garam masala and cook until the okra is just tender, approximately 5 minutes. Add more water if necessary to prevent sticking.

3. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne, and cilantro, and gently mix well before serving.

· Try replacing the okra with chopped zucchini or summer squash.
· Replace 1 cup of the okra with chopped broccoli.
· Add 1 tablespoon of brown mustard seeds or fennel seeds.
· Add 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno pepper.
· For an added crunch and burst of flavor, top with Masala Nuts (see below).

Combine the following in a small bowl and stir well: 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1/8 teaspoon each turmeric and cayenne, and 1/4 teaspoon each ground cumin, ground coriander, chile powder, curry powder, garam masala, and sea salt.

Place 1 teaspoon of sesame oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the spices and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add 1/2 cup chopped cashews or other nuts and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

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