There are certain Urdu words that I really enjoy saying, those that sound exactly like what they mean. Kurkuri, that delightful word for crunchy and crispy is one of them. The first time my daughter had this Kurkuri Bhindi she was 3 years old and we were visiting my parents in Karachi. Her Nano had made this bhindi and Zara upon trying them said “these sticks are yummy!” It then occurred to me that my daughter had never had Okra except for its cornmeal battered deep fried incarnation. As yummy as the Deep Fried Okra was that way it was far too much work (and oil) for my liking.
Since then I make the Kurkuri Bhindi for my kids when I can. I say for my kids because if they get to it first no one else will. That is just how it is. There is a slight bitterness to the crispy slightly charred bhindi but it is reminiscent of Kale Chips which they also happen to love. While thinly slicing the bhindi seems tedious it is absolutely worth it when I see them devour it. My little one clearly thinks of it as a vehicle for chaat masala, a spice mix available in South Asian stores and some grocery stores too. Her favourite thing to do is to sprinkle extra chaat masala over her bhindi, lick it off her fingers, chug some milk because it’s spicy and repeat. Suffice is to say the extra chaat masala can never be reused. The implied waste aside it makes my desi mama heart proud to see her enjoying it the way she does.
It is also so nice that I am at any time 3-ingredients away from making this. The oil and chaat masala are a pantry staple so all I need is some South Asian bhindi. Indian or Pakistani bhindi tends to be more slender and with smaller seeds so I recommend it over the ‘regular’ variety. It is now available at my grocery store which is why this okra dish has been making so many appearances at our dinner table. What works best for me is to trim the tops of the okra, halve the bhindi lengthwise and cut it into 3-4 slender strips. Good knife not optional. For stir frying these beauties I like to use the best wide non stick wok or skillet that I have because that really cuts down the oil that is required. A smaller pot or a heavier stainless steel one would need more oil and take more time.
- - Pakistani/Indian Okra
- - Chaat Masala
- - Oil
- - Heat oil in a wide bottomed pan or wok, you want a generous lug for stir frying
- - Stir fry the okra on high heat moving periodically to make sure it cooks evenly and doesn't burn.
- - Remove with a slotted spoon and put on paper towels to drain the extra grease
- - Season with Chaat Masala, toss to mix and serve immediately.
- - Usually I give precise quantities, but in this case there is not much of a point. Slice whatever you will eat right away, crisp up and season. My girls tend to eat just shy of a pound
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