Monday, May 18, 2015

Bhenda Sagle ( Okra/ ladies finger in spicy coconut sauce); Meatless Monday.

The amazing thing about Indian cuisine is the endless amount of meatless options! This is because majority of Indians don't eat red meat and most are vegetarians. Indian cuisine and culture is the perfect proof for the fact that people can survive and lead a full and healthy life by following a plant-based diet.

Okra is a favorite vegetable amongst Indians too. Where I come from which is Southern India, okra is long, around 10-12 cms. It is also lighter green in color and is never tough.I became familiar with the short okra only after leaving my hometown. Okra is known as Ladies finger in India. In Hindi language it is known a "Bhendi ". While there are several ways okra is prepared in India, the traditional way of preparing in the konkani community is by cooking it in a spicy coconut-based sauce. This dish is known as "Bhenda Sagle " and is a popular dish in the konkani community. It is not too spicy, has the flavors of coriander seeds and is gentle on the stomach. It goes great with any kind of rice. Last but not the least, it is quick, simple and easy to make.

Servings: 4-6


Okra/ ladies finger/bhendi: 250 gms or 8 oz
Freshly grated coconut: 2 cups
Coriander seeds: 1 tbsp
Dried red chillies: 3-4
Tamarind: marble-sized piece.
Water: 2 cups
Coconut Oil: 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste.

For tempering:
Coconut oil: 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig



Roast the coriander seeds with 1/2 tsp oil until aromatic. Add the red chilies to it for a minute , roast a little and keep aside to cool.

Wash the okra and pat it dry completely using paper towels or kitchen towels. Then cut it into 1 inch size pieces.

Boil it with one cup water and salt until tender( around 5-8 mins). 

While the okra is cooking, in a blender,grind together the freshly grated coconut, red chillies, tamarind, and coriander seeds to a fine paste . Add water while grinding as needed.

Add the above paste to the cooked okra and bring it to a boil. Turn off the flame.

Heat 1/2 tsp oil in a pan.  Add the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add the curry leaves and turn off the flame.

Add this to the above pot.

Serve hot with rice.

Clockwise: White rice, dal, bhenda sagle, patrado, moong dal fry, cabbage -carrot stir fry.


Cooking made easy:

Okra is very slimy. Always wash okra before cutting it. Dry it completely to take away any moisture. Cook it with just enough water and don't overcook it. If overcooked, it disintegrates and you end up with a slimy mess.

Tip for healthy living:

Okra has several health benefits. It is a great source of dietary fiber preventing constipation and GI irregularities.

Food for thought:

We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated. Maya Angelou.