I really like stuffing and cooking vegetables – bell peppers, tomatoes, okra, anaheim peppers, small eggplant, etc. It gives a nice twist to boring old veggies, increases their coolness and taste factor many, many times. “Oh, wow you stuffed tomatoes?” Is the reaction I get, but really, it’s no big deal. I play around with various kinds of stuffing recipes, and today I have a winner. Don’t get daunted looking at the pictures and the lengthy procedure, go ahead and give it a try!
A couple of things to remember though – DO NOT, and I repeat, do NOT heat it for later in the microwave. It becomes dry and fibrous. It happened to me, and I was very upset. Also, feel free to skip the oven step and continue roasting on the pan over the stovetop till done.
Make sure you buy tender okra that don’t have any brown spots on the outside. The seeds will be small and soft. The riper the okra, the tougher it feels after frying. This isn’t the usual Bharwan Bhindi recipe, I did something completely different.
- Okra - 15, tender and soft
- oil - 2 tbsp + 1 tsp + 1 tsp
- Channa dal - 1 cup, soaked for 1 hour till tender
- Poppy Seeds - 2 tsp
- Onion - 1, medium, chopped very very fine
- Tomato - 1/2, medium, chopped very very fine
- Tamarind - 1/2 tsp, paste
- Green chilly - 2, finely chopped
- Cilantro - 10 stalks, chopped very fine
- Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
- Curry Leaves - 3
- Fennel seeds - 1/4 tsp
- Peanuts - 2 tbsp, lightly roasted, crushed into coarse bits, not powder
- Garlic - 1 clove, crushed
- Ginger - 1/4
- Coriander Powder - 1 1/2 tsp
- Red Chilly Powder - 1/2 tsp
- Garam Masala - 1/4 tsp
- Salt - to taste
To prepare the stuffing :
- Chop the onions, tomatoes, cilantro and green chillies into very small pieces and set aside. Remember, it has to go into the okra so they should be pretty small.
- Soak the channa dal for an hour or so until tender.
- In a blender, grind the poppy seeds first since they are coarse. Add the channa dal and grind to a smooth paste. Don’t add water.
- In a pan, heat oil, when hot, add the cumin seeds. Add the green chillies, ginger, garlic (or paste), fennel seeds, cilantro, tear the curry leaves, and add them. Add the onions next, salt and cook till soft and golden brown. Add the coarse peanuts and mix till lightly roasted with the onions
- Now, add the channa dal-poppy seed mixture to the onions and fry. This will take about 5-7 minutes. Fry very well until the raw smell and look goes away. The mixture starts browning and becoming coarse. It will not look like a paste. That’s fine, keep going and continue till well browned and coarse like.
- Add the tomatoes and tamarind. Continue stirring and the tomato bits start to shrivel up and caramelize slightly. Turn off heat, set aside until cool enough to handle. It’s time to get the okra ready.
- Slit the Okra till almost the end and open it up a little bit. Remove a few of the seeds with the help of a blunt knife while taking care to see it does not split.
- Now that the stuffing is cool, stuff a teaspoon or so into each of the vegetables and set aside.
- In a flat-ish pan, heat 2 tsp of oil. When hot, add the stuffed okra to it and gently cook, moving it around till all sides are browned evenly.
- (Feel free to skip this step) Transfer into a greased baking tray, spray or lightly coat with oil, and bake at 425 F for about 15 min until well browned and crispy. Since oven times vary, make sure you check to see that they aren’t burning. If you don’t do this step, continue to fry on the stove top till crisp and well done.
- Sprinkle with some salt and serve hot with rice, roti etc!