For me, okra is a comfort food and brings back fond memories of my childhood. I will occasionally find some in Michigan, but I rarely see the lovely small pods that result in the most delicious okra dishes. I also love okra's versatility - it has completely different characteristics depending on how it's cooked. Of course most people instinctively fry okra, which is always tasty. I've also become a big fan of roasting okra (with or without a flour/cornmeal coating), which makes the outside and seeds crunchy, similar to frying. I also love the often-feared boiled okra. Bring on the sliminess! Perhaps my favorite method of cooking okra, though, is stewing it with tomatoes. This results in a thicker stew-like concoction (similar to gumbo) and combines two of my favorite foods.
Recently I've become fascinated by the extreme overlap between Southern food and that of other warm-climate cultures. I didn't realize quite the extent of the similarities until I was eating at The Earthen Jar, a delicious vegetarian Indian buffet, in Ann Arbor the other day and discovered that my plate was covered in southern staples (like okra, collard greens, and black-eyed peas). And, as I looked through the okra recipes that I had bookmarked over the last few months, almost all of them were for Indian food. So, it seemed natural to use the okra (as well as the eggplant and tomato that we picked up at the market) in a curry.
Okra, eggplant, and tomato curry over quinoa
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, sliced thinly
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground ginger (or use fresh if you have it)
3 cups okra, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 small graffiti eggplants, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 Tbsp tamarind concentrate
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups cooked quinoa* (or rice)
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute until it gets tender. Stir in curry powder, turmeric, and ginger, and cook for an additional minute. Then add okra, eggplant, tomato, and tamarind concentrate, stir well, cover, and cook until okra and eggplant are tender (about 15 min). Add salt and pepper to taste and serve over quinoa. Serves 4.
* To cook quinoa, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Sort and rinse 1 cup of quinoa, and add to boiling water. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer until all of the water is absorbed (15-20 min). Let it stand, covered, for 5 min.
Mom and I really enjoyed this, and it was extremely easy. This is one of those great meals where you can eat a ton (and believe me, I did), but it's light and fresh enough that you don't feel sick afterwards. I thought that this was a great use of okra, because it thickened up the sauce a bit and provided a great texture contrast to the eggplant and tomatoes. I'm submitting this to Weekend Herb Blogging, a blogging event was originally started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen and is now organized by Haalo of Cook (almost) Everything At Least Once. This week, Susan from The Well-Seasoned Cook is hosting. This has become one of my favorite food blogging events, and I'm excited that I could take advantage of the plethora of fresh and local veggies that I have access to this week!