Healthy Recipe, Indian Okra

Okra is a staple of the American South: fried, pickled, stirred into gumbos. It’s also the primary component of a popular North Indian dish called bhindi (okra) masala, the inspiration behind this recipe lightly adapted from William Stark Dissen’s “Thoughtful Cooking: Recipes in the New South.” Bursting with bright curry spices and fresh herbs, it’s also loaded with nutrients and fiber. Pair it with rice and a yogurt-based sauce to make a quick vegetarian meal in a bowl. Serves 4.

Cucumber Raita: 

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced small (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons chopped mint leaves
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt to taste

Okra and Tomato Stew:

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 2 medium plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 pound okra, stems trimmed and sliced crosswise ½ inch thick
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Jasmine or other white rice and lime wedges for serving


  1. Make the raita: In a medium bowl, stir together the yogurt, cucumber, garlic, cilantro, mint, lime juice, cumin, garam masala, cayenne, and salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Make the stew: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 7 minutes.
  3. Add the turmeric, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, and a few grindings of black pepper. Cook and stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes; cook and stir for a minute more. Add the okra; cook and stir for 2 minutes more.
  4. Cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the okra is tender but not mushy, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in half the cilantro, lime juice, and garam masala.
  5. Divide the okra among serving bowls and garnish each with a dollop of raita and the remaining cilantro. Serve with rice and lime wedges.

Susan Puckett is an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author.