This Bhindi Masala is my copy of the one my Nanis cook makes. True Story. Nani, incidentally, is the word for maternal grandmother. My Nani has been Nanna to all of us and Nonni H (H for Hussain) to me. We are coming up on the 9th of Muharram, a poignant day for Shia Muslims. Yet when I think of the 9th of Muharram I inevitably think of my Nonni. In her prime my Nonni was feisty with a sense of humour and a naughty contained laugh that radiated from the centre of her grey green eyes to the gentle crinkles around the corners.
The 9th of Muharram is a solemn night, one where people would stream in and out, soberly praying. The last time Nonni was well enough to be there for the night she mischievously regaled my sister and I with stories from her youth. Of a little girl who would break into the achar (pickles) when her mother wasn’t looking, of the summertime antics of women we knew as grandmothers. My sister and I would burst into giggles at inopportune moments causing our mother to sternly admonish us with her silent glare. It would take all of a second for Nanna to resume her storytelling. Suffice is to say my sister and I did not end the night in my mothers good books.
Times have changed since. This last trip, the delicious bhindi masala trip, Nanna was no longer the storyteller. My sister and I would tell her our silly stories, talk to her as if she were the child just in order to get her to eat a few bites of bhindi masala. It was a rousing success if she ate more than half a roti. Even as I write this I find that change hard to process. My sister handles it with greater grace and loves her immensely the way she is. I, however, struggle to connect this Nonni. Foe me she is the one who once told me at a family Mehndi (a wedding event) “why would I dance with you when there are so many boys around!?”
I never saw my Nonni dance so I can’t say she was serious, just pretty darn funny. As I type this I am once again amazed at how that very traditional religious woman who got married at 14 such a long time ago always knew what to say to make me, a girl from a very different time, laugh.
Grandmother Approved Bhindi Masala
I knew this Bhindi Masala was a winner even before I tasted it because Nonni actually ate it. And complimented it. Those of us who know her well know she is not one to give out compliments lightly. When I ate it I was sold. Here is why – because of the way it is cooked, i.e. the flash frying. It helps the bhindi hold its shape and take on a firmer texture without any of the “lais” or gummy residue. Drain it well and add it to the masala with a generous amount of green chillies and you’re in business. In all honesty though if anyone had told me to make a bhindi by flash frying it first I would have been aghast, but having had it I couldn’t resist.
It is also a bonus that I can flash fry it ahead of time. Then I leave it to drain on paper towels and fold into the masala. Voila! All this without having spent time hovering over the stove. If you choose to skip the flash fry then simply cook the bhindi in the masala until its done, tossing gently from time to time to allow the gumminess to cook out without breaking the [sta_anchor id=”bhindi” unsan=”Bhindi”]bhindi. [/sta_anchor]
- 1 lb bhindi sliced into thin rounds
- 1 small onion thinly sliced
- 2 diced tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp garlic paste
- 1/2 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 tsp coriander powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 4-6 green chillies
- oil for cooking
Heat about an inch and a half of oil in a small pot and fry the bhindi in batches until it is a dark forest-y green, drain well on paper towels to remove excess oil.
Add a splash of oil into a medium saucepan or wok and put the pan on medium heat
Once the oil is hot enough add the sliced onion and saute till translucent
Stir in the ginger and garlic pastes, sauteeing for about a minute
In go the spices and cook them for about 30 seconds
Add the tomatoes and cook till they make a “masala” or paste and the oil rises above the masala.
Gently mix in your bhindi and add 4-5 diced green chillies.
Cook on low for ten minutes, adjust seasoning and serve w hot chapati.
If you want to skip the flash frying simply add the bhindi in after the masala is cooked and cook on medium heat stirring gently, but frequently until it is cooked through. You may need to add a splash more of oil, but don’t add water!
Bhindi is one of our favorite veggies to eat.
Here are two other version below, the crispy one that my kids devour and a more adult one that tastes like achar or pickles.