North Indian street food and the variety it offers are amazing. There are many variants but most chaats are yogurt based that have a generous drizzle of Tamarind Chutney and Green Chutney and a sprinkle of many wonderful spices such as roasted ground cumin powder, rock salt, Chaat Masala or spice mix. It is always lip smacking good and making a choice between the many chaats can be sometimes quite a task! The chaat may be hot or cold / room temperature. Dahi Bhalla chaat for instance is served either at room temperature or cold and same is the case with the Spinach Fritters Chaat. Whereas the Aloo Tikki Chaat (Potato Patties) is served hot straight off the skillet and ditto with the Samosa Chaat. I visit Delhi twice a year to meet family and friends i.e. once in summer and once at the onset of winters. And during my summer visit it is always the dahi bhalla chaat that I choose and during the winter visits it is the piping hot aloo tikka chaat or crispy potato chaat (try the one that is sold at kiosk at Barakhamba road, right outside IDBI Bank and not towards HDFC Bank).
However, there is nothing as Bhindi Chaat that is served at any chaat corner. It is me taking a step further on from bhindi raita and turning it into chaat. Feel free to leave out chutneys and serve the crispy fried okra with spiced up yogurt for bhindi raita. And in case you do not want to have it even as raita, then simply serve the crispy fried okra as a side dish along with rice and lentils. It will taste good…but not as good as a chaat would. I prefer making the tamarind chutney from scratch since it is so much better than the store brought ones and it does not take much time to make either.
Bhindi is not liked by many because it releases slime when it is cooked. Therefore one needs to either make a quick stir fry or ‘cure’ it with something citrus such as lemon juice, dry mango powder or tomatoes when making a curry dish. But for this dish, the okra is thinly sliced and then marinated with spices and coated with the gluten free chick pea flour before being fried, which turns out to be a sure shot way of killing all that slimy stuff and the result is crispy and delicious okra fritters.
For Okra Fritters
300 grams approx. – Okra / Bhindi / Ladies Finger
1½ tbsp Cooking Oil 1½ tsp Ginger Garlic Paste
1 tsp (scant) Salt
1 tsp Red Chili Powder
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp roasted Cumin Powder
1 tsp Dry Mango Powder (Amchur)
1½ tsp Coriander Powder
¼ C Besan plus Rice Flour (take the ¼ measuring cup and fill half the cup with chickpea flour and fill the rest with rice flour)
Sufficient Oil to fry
1 Cups Yogurt (whisked lightly)
Kala Namak to taste
Roasted Cumin Powder for sprinkle, optional
Red Chili Powder to sprinkle, optional
Chaat Masala to sprinkle, optional
Tamarind Chutney to drizzle
Green Chutney to drizzle
Wash and drain the okra. Pat dry to remove any excess moisture. Chop off the ends and slice the okra vertically in four pieces. (do not slice too thin else the okra slices will burn easily while frying)
Deseed the okra as the seeds might splutter and burst in oil. This may be a time consuming process but highly advised.
Transfer the sliced okra in a large mixing bowl and drizzle it with oil. Mix well till the slices are coated with oil. Then add ginger garlic paste and again mix well. Keep aside.
In a small bowl, mix together all the spices to besan – rice mix.
Sprinkle the besan rice mix over the okra slices.
Gently, using your finger, mix it into the okra so that all the okra slices are well coated. (You have to basically dredge the okra.) Keep aside for five to seven minutes.
Heat sufficient oil in a kadahi or pan. Add fry the okra in batches of four or five depending on large your frying pan is.
Fry the okra till it turns golden brown in color (ensure that you keep stirring them often to prevent the okra from burning). Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the sliced okra. I usually cook in medium high heat.
Remove the okra from the oil on to an absorbent paper or kitchen towel. Allow it to cool.
Arrange okra on individual serving plates. Drizzle yogurt over the okra and then some tamarind chutney and green chutney. Sprinkle spices if required. Serve immediately else the okra will go soft, sitting in yogurt.
Serves: 2 – 3
Note: Remove as much of seeds as you can from the okra while slicing them.
Note: Try to slice the okra in even size. This will help the okra pieces to cook evenly.
Note: The fried okra can be served as a side with dal and rice or dal and chapati.
Note: In case you intend to serve the crispy okra as an appetizer or snack (i.e. without yogurt or as a chaat), sprinkle it with some Chaat Masala.
Note: Adjust the amount of yogurt as per taste.
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