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India is an amazing country with such varied cultures – each having their own language, their own dialect and their own unique attires and not to forget their own special ways of cooking food. Though the spices and herbs used across the country are more or less the same and so are many other ingredients, yet the food is unique and different in each state and its cuisine.

I have had okra (bhindi or lady finger, as it is commonly called in our country) cooked in a variety of ways – with dry masala, with stuffed masala of onion and ginger-garlic, or it being sautéed with chopped onions, etc, etc. But when I ate okra cooked in sarson masala (mustard paste) I found this recipe very unique, interesting and very delectable especially when it is served with Sattu ka Parantha.

Actually it is typically made in this manner in the state of Bihar. It was only when I gradually got introduced to the culinary delights of Bihar, after my marriage, that I realised how neglected this cuisine is. It is so full of flavours, delicious, balanced and healthy; yet for some reason never got the dues it deserves. (Though it is somewhat influenced by the Bengali cuisine.)

previous recipe, which has the distinctive flavours of Bihar, happens to be the most viewed recipe on this blog which proves my point that Bihari cuisine has so many interesting flavours but it is yet to be explored by the world and the Indians themselves!!

This is what all I needed:

350 grams okra
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds (powdered and mixed with 2-3 tbsp of water to make a paste)
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
¼ tsp cumin seeds
1 pinch fenugreek seeds
1 medium tomato (grated)
1 tbsp mustard oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil (you may even use sunflower oil or even olive oil)
1 generous pinch of asafoetida
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp garam masala
Salt to taste

Wash and pat dry the okra and chop it in 1 inch pieces.
Pour 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a hot wok and add asafoetida to it. When it turns golden brown add the okra and fry for 2-3 minutes on high flame. Once done, remove from the wok.
Pour 1 tbsp of mustard oil and let it smoke.
Remove it from heat and add cumin and fenugreek seeds. Let them splutter.
Add mustard paste along with the ginger and garlic paste.
Fry this paste till it starts becoming dry and changes to brownish colour. (This paste is delicate and you need to constantly keep stirring it to prevent it from getting burnt)
Add 3 tbsp water and fry it till it becomes dry and brownish coloured again.
Add the puréed tomato along with the dry masala – chilli, salt, turmeric and garam masala.
Saute for half a minute and add the okra. Cook on low flame till the okra is done.
Serve with Sattu ka Parantha.

Serves 3-4

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