Every summer there is a gloriously big and beautiful display of okra at the Farmer’s Market and it remains virtually un-touched, as far as I can see. Almost without fail as soon as I begin heaping it into a bag, someone sidles up asking wonderously how to prepare it.
Luckily for me I grew up eating this delicious vegetable prepared to perfection by both my mother and grandmother. No matter how hard I try I cannot exactly duplicate their magic. But, I do get enough rave reviews from people my age to warrant sharing my own recipe.
It’s perfect for a summer dinner party because it is in season (please do not buy it frozen and try this recipe!). Similar to how beets were about 5 years ago, barely anyone makes okra. And, okra is just loaded with nutritional benefits.
The thing you don’t want to end up with is a gloopy, slimy dish. To help prevent that, wash your okra one day before you cook and let them dry completely on a towel.
After they are completely dry, cut them (discarding the tops and tips) and let them dry out more overnight in the refrigerator.
The key to this recipe is the sweet and sour taste afforded by the malt vinegar and brown sugar and enhanced by the lemon at the end.
80-90 fingers of okra (chopped like above)
4 medium sized tomatoes diced
1 medium sized yellow onion diced
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon turmeric
1/2 tablespoon cumin powder
1/2 tablespoon red pepper (available at Indian groceries)
Salt to taste
1/4 cup hand-torn cilantro for garnish
1-2 lemons wedged. Juice squeezed over just before serving
Sautée onion on medium heat until golden brown like above. Add the tomatoes, turmeric, cumin and red pepper and sautée all together until a thick paste forms.
Press the tomatoes down with a slotted spoon to release their juices while cooking. Once a sauce is formed, remove it from the pan and place it alongside the stove in a separate bowl.
Place the okra in the pan with brown sugar and malt vinegar and cook on medium heat for five minutes. Add the sauce to the okra and cook through for about 10 more minutes on medium heat. As soon as the okra is slightly tender it is done. It is best to sample it. Do not overcook the okra or it will not be separated nicely.
Salt the okra to taste. We used about 3/4 tablespoon. Serve with hand-torn cilantro and squeezed lemon.