Curried Okra with Chickpeas and Tomatoes

I’ve been so terrible about writing here that I’ve backlogged several meals that were meant to become posts.  However, I will start with this one, which took place this evening.

Christin and I have spent several months idly talking about a cooking date in which we attack some feared vegetable; at first it was eggplant, which morphed into okra.  Not only had I never tried okra, I had never seen it.

I had also never been to Pedrick Produce, a market full of local produce and dangerously tempting snacks a few miles outside of Davis.  I’m not sure how I’ve managed to live here this long without someone insisting that I go there, but I’m glad someone (Christin) finally did.  In addition to ingredients for tonight’s meal, I picked up some very cheap dried fruits and pumpkin seeds for granola, as well as a bag of peanut brittle which I have already had too much of this evening.

As it turns out, okra is not terribly difficult to prepare.  Following is the recipe we used, from Epicurious.com.

Curried Okra with Chickpeas and Tomatoes

  • 1 1/4 lb small fresh okra, left untrimmed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 (14- to 15-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice, tomatoes chopped, reserving juice
  • 1 (19-oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (2 cups)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Trim okra, leaving tops intact, being careful not to cut into pods.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onion and garlic with ginger and curry powder, stirring, 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, chickpeas, and water and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Stir in okra, salt, and pepper and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until okra is tender, about 10 minutes.

When we added the okra, we were extremely doubtful about the 10 minute cooking time.  In their raw pod form, they look impermeable and unlikely to soften.  However, 10 minutes is indeed the proper cooking time, and it is important not to cook them longer.  The pods that were left in the pot as we ate became too soft, and the very strange viscous fluid inside the pods gives them an unpleasant, sticky consistency.

That issue aside, this dish was very good!  We served it over brown rice, and it felt very light and healthy.  Okra has totally won me over.  If anyone else has okra recipes, I would love to hear about them!

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