Recipe: Okra and Squash Curry

Have you ever tried okra? It’s one of my new favorite ingredients, and the star of this easy curry recipe.

Bhindi (okra) masala is my go-to dish at Indian restaurants. I’ve been lucky enough to find several restaurants that are able to safely make this dish gluten-free and vegan. You have to be careful because oftentimes the okra is fried in a shared fryer, so not every place is able to prepare this meal for celiacs. It also can be made with butter or ghee, which can sometimes be swapped for oil and sometimes not.

One day, I found myself craving bhindi masala and decided to try to my hand at making it. As with almost every recipe I use, I researched traditional ingredients, and how to prepare the dish, and then put my own spin on it. For this recipe, I added roasted yellow squash for an additional element and swapped in curry powder instead of masala spices. Curry is close to masala, but curry powders come in many different varieties so how similar depends on the one you choose.

If you’ve never cooked okra before, let me warn you. It gets very slimy when you cook it (which is why many people fry it) and is a natural thickener. This threw me for a loop the first time I cooked with it. I don’t think this consistency/texture affects the okra’s flavor, however.

I did include nutritional yeast in this recipe for a little more creaminess, and for more protein. Feel free to play with the spice levels by adding cayenne pepper if you like it hot.

In the end, this curry is not quite Indian take-out, but it is a much healthier alternative by eliminating much of the extra oil traditionally used, and is equally as satisfying for my (or your) bhindi craving.

 

Ingredients: 

1 16-oz package of okra, cut into bite size pieces.

3 small yellow squash

1 cup pureed tomato

1/2 cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 tablespoon paprika

1/2 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon oil of choice

Oil spray of choice

1/2 cup water (if needed)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 470 degrees. While the oven is preheating, prepare your yellow squash by cutting each one into 2-inch long pieces. The place cut squash on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Season with salt and pepper. When the oven is hot, roast squash for around 30 minutes or until the edges become golden brown

Then, in a medium-to-large soup pot, sauté the diced onion and garlic in oil under medium heat until the onion becomes translucent. Add the 1/2 cup of water and throw in the okra. Season with salt and pepper and bring to nice bubble. Cook the vegetables for around 10 minutes on low-medium heat until the okra becomes soft.

Next, dump in the tomato puree, paprika, curry powder, and cumin. Reduce heat to low and add the nutritional yeast. (You may need to add more water is the mixture is too thick.) Finally, when the yellow squash is done, toss it into the pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes until all the flavors are incorporated.

Makes 2 hearty bowls. Serve it over a grain like rice or quinoa, or even cooked lentils and sautéed greens.

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