There are a handful of recipes that I just know by heart, and this bhindi sabzi is one of those you. You know the ones where you can move through the motions and never really think about how much to add of what and when? For me those are usually homestyle Punjabi recipes like masra di dal, baingan bhartha, tari vala chicken, and of course bhindi sabzi. Some how these type of rustic recipes tend to be very forgiving when it comes to adjusting spices and ingredients. Maybe that’s why they always take me the longest to write up?
Bhindi sabzi wasn’t always easy for me though. The first few times I made it, it ended up a slimy mess, (make sure you check out my notes on prepping the bhindi to avoid a similar fate). That plus trying to follow the recipe my mom had given me by ‘andaaza’, was kind of a nightmare. It took several months of trying and testing different methods for cooking the bhindi to master the okra slime, and the correct measurements for spices. I’m happy to report that I’ve definitely conquered bhindi sabzi, and can now make it with my eyes closed. (Not really, that would be crazy, but you get the point!)
Like most other green sabzis, I always cooking bhindi sabzi in mustard oil (sarson da tel). I know there are varying opinions on the use of mustard oil and it’s safety. In my family we’ve been using it for years, and love the flavour. Generally I will heat it up to a very high temperature, smoke it out for a few minutes, cool it down, and then cook with it like any other high heat oil. If you are curious about using it, this article about American chefs discovering mustard oil is an interesting read.
Punjabi Bhindi Sabzi Recipe – Notes:
- Never wash bhindi directly under water. Instead wet a dishcloth and wipe the outside of each piece like you would with mushrooms.
- Once you wipe the bhindi down, spread out on a tray and let it air dry for 10-15 minutes before you cut it.
- I cut the bhindi into small circles because I find it easier to scoop up with a roti, but my mom recently told me it doesn’t look authentic that way and I should be chopping it into 1 inch pieces. Your call, you can do it the Pink Chai way, or the Pink Chai Mama way!
- Always fry the bhindi lightly in mustard oil (or an oil of your preference) before adding it to the sabzi. If you skip this step it is much more likely to get slimy.
- When you are cooking bhindi sabzi, don’t add salt until the mid-way point of cooking your masala (when most components are partially cooked). Adding salt to early will cause the tadka to release more water and cause the bhindi to get wet and slimey.
- Never cover bhindi with a lid when cooking it, the steam will cause it to release water and create slime.
A classic Punjabi dish, bhindi sabzi (okra) is made in a tempering of onions and tomato
5 cups of chopped bhindi – approx 30-35 bhindi (see notes on cleaning & chopping!)
3 tbs mustard oil for frying bhindi (you may substitute with any high heat oil)
1 tbs ghee
1.5 tbs cumin seeds – jeera
1 cup chopped onion
1.5 cups of finely chopped tomatoes (I prefer to use Roma tomatoes)
4 cloves garlic chopped finely
2 inch piece of ginger chopped finely
1 green chili sliced finely (optional)
1 tbs coriander powder – dhaniya
1/2 tsp turmeric powder – haldi
1/2 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp dried mango powder – amchur (optional)
1 tsp garam masala powder
- Start by cleaning and chopping the bhindi.
- Fry the chopped bhindi in mustard oil, or the oil of your choice on medium to high heat, stirring frequently for 8-10 minutes. Remove the fried bhindi from the pan and spread them out on a plate or tray.
- Prepare the tadka. Add the ghee into a heavy bottomed pan and heat on medium high. Add cumin seeds and tet them sputter for a minute (while stirring), then add the onions. Cook the onions down for 2-3 minutes, and then add the green chillies, garlic, and ginger. (If you would like more tips on preparing a tadka, check out this post)
- Now add the tomatoes, coriander powder, turmeric powder, and red chili powder and cook for 2 minutes. At this point you can add the salt and continue to cook the tadka down for an additional 4-6 minutes. The tadka is ready when the tomato mixture starts to pull away from the pan, and release oil.
- Once the tadka is done, add the fried bhindi into the pan and cook together for 2 minutes. (Do not cover with a lid!)
- Finish with garam masala, amchur (if using), and cilantro
- Serve with hot, fresh rotis
Never wash bhindi directly in water. Use a wet towel to wipe it down, chop it into whatever size pieces you like, and then let it sit for 15-20 minutes before cooking so it dries out on the inside.
- Cuisine: Indian
- Serving Size: 3/4 cup