Spiced okra in tomato sauce

Spiced okra in tomato sauce

Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast
Emma Lee

Okra is a much misunderstood vegetable. Many people consider it uninteresting, or worse. But it can have a lovely texture, is flavourful and really healthy. To avoid any sliminess, the okra is cooked in a frying pan away from any liquid, then added to a lightly spiced, tangy sauce. Keeping the okra fingers intact will maintain their character and flavour. Serve with a creamy, flavourful raita.


Quantity Ingredient
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon onion seeds
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons yogurt
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
salt, to taste
300g okra, topped and tailed, each slit down its length


  1. Heat 4 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a non-stick saucepan. Add the cumin, fennel and onion seeds and cook for 10–15 seconds, or until the cumin is aromatic. Add the onions and cook until just colouring on the edges.
  2. Meanwhile, blend together the tomatoes and yogurt until smooth. Add to the onions with the remaining spices and some salt. Bring to the boil then simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and has released some oil back into the pan. Continue cooking, stirring more often, for another two to three minutes. Add 200 ml of water, return to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the okra and a little salt and cook, shaking the pan every now and then, for five to seven minutes, or until the okra is just soft. Add to the sauce, stir well, taste and adjust the seasoning, then simmer for another minute and serve.

Carrot, cucumber and peanut raita

  • Nutty, crunchy and lovely.

    Lightly salt 150 g of coarsely grated cucumber, leave for 10 minutes, squeeze out excess water and place in a bowl. Add 1 large carrot, also coarsely grated, 3 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves, 15 g of roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed, and ½ finely chopped chilli. Now stir in 250 g of thick yogurt, season to taste, adding 1 teaspoon of caster sugar and 2 tablespoons of grated fresh coconut, if you like. Heat 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil in a small saucepan, add ½ teaspoon of mustard seeds and, when the popping dies down, 6 or 7 curry leaves. Cook for another 10 seconds, then stir into the yogurt. Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve.
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