Bhindi Masala ~ Indian-Style Spiced Okra

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Everyone should discover and eat more okra. Well that’s what I think at least, and for some reason I’ve always viewed okra as a ‘treat” vegetable. You heard it - a treat! Will get to the treat part in a moment.

Okra is ubiquitous in the South Asian diet and very often is found as a side to an authentic Indian meal or ‘thali’ (stainless steel plate containing various curries and vegetables including rice, a sweet and flatbread). There are so many variations of recipes that use Bhindi (okra) as the main ingredient but most of the time it’s just the okra itself that is simmered, fried, deep-fried, steamed or braised in masala and cooked to perfection. Once you get used to this vegetable you’ll see there is absolutely nothing that can act as a substitute for it and clearly no other vegetable that can stand in its place.

Okra, also referred to as “Lady’s Finger” contains a gooey-like centre membrane that some might argue makes it possibly off-putting. However, when cooked well (um, cooked right) all that gooeyness turns crispy and is utterly delicious making okra highly addictive. So this is where the “treat” part comes in. I always remember having okra cut up into small bits, deep-fried until crispy, served hot tossed in masala and garnished with sea salt. We used to pop these into our mouths just like popcorn! And a plate full would disappear in literally seconds.

Either way, when cooked well and spiced up with masala this can really create an unforgettable Indian meal. Here is a basic Bhindi Masala Recipe that should always be eaten with warm fresh Chapatis.


BHINDI MASALA ~ INDIAN-STYLE SPICED OKRA

METHOD OF PREPARATION:

1) In a frying pan add oil, mustard and cumin seeds. Cover pan with a lid allow mustard seed to pop and cumin seeds to become slightly brown.

2) Add okra, potatoes and onions. Add ARVINDA’S MADRAS MASALA and salt. Mix and stir-fry for a minute.

3) Cover with lid and cook on low heat until potatoes are tender. Uncover and cook until okra is slightly crispy. Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS:

1 TBSP. oil
½ TSP. mustard seeds from ARVINDA’S ESSENTIAL WHOLES SPICE KIT
½ TSP. cumin seeds from ARVINDA’S ESSENTIAL WHOLES SPICE KIT
1 LB. fresh okra, cleaned with wet towel, thinly sliced
3 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 TBSP. ARVINDA’S MADRAS MASALA
1 TSP. salt or salt to taste

This recipe will work equally well with Arvinda’s Curry Masala!


HOT & SPICY LEMON-ORANGE MURRABO, an Indian-style spicy jam

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Sitting down to eat a vegetarian thali recently, I was reminded of a memorable meal I had in Mumbai many years back, with the most unforgettable homemade Murrabo. Murrabo (Murraba) is essentially an Indian-style jam that is both sweet and hot.

Being greeted with a full Indian vegetarian dinner served in a thali (stainless steel plate with small bowls for each item) our hostess, Meena Aunty pulled out her homemade lemon zest Murrabo. An impeccable balance of sweet, sour and hot, this condiment acted as “the equalizer”, neutralizing the spicier flavours on the plate into a sweet harmony. 

Most Indian meals are accompanied with chutneys and raita (a cooling yogurt with cucumber). Murrabo is one of those sweeter condiments that will balance out the many flavours found in an Indian vegetarian meal.

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HOT & SPICY LEMON-ORANGE MURRABO

Method of Preparation:

1) In a small pot, bring water to boil. Add sugar, lemon juice and whole spices. Stir until liquid is reduced and becomes a syrup. (You are looking for a “one thread” consistency also known as chasni).

2) Fold in orange and lemon zest and orange rind. Mix in chili powder, ARVINDA'S MADRAS MASALA and sea salt. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until orange rind softens and cooks.

3) Cool down mixture. Store in a sterile jar and store in refrigerator.

Ingredients:
5 oranges, zested
1 orange rind, finely cubed
2 lemons, zested
1 CUP water
¾ CUPraw cane sugar
juice of half a lemon
1-2 EACHARVINDA'S WHOLE SPICES
1 TSP. chili powder
1 TSP. ARVINDA'S MADRAS MASALA
½ TSP. sea salt

This Murrabo would make an ideal hostess gift!

A cooling yogurt condiment: Cucumber Madras Raita

Yogurt is integral to Indian cuisine and is often consumed in some form with every Indian meal–whether it’s in a drink like Lassi, in a curry itself or just eaten plain on the side.

For your next Indian meal, make this yogurt condiment known as Raita as a side condiment to temper the heat and add coolness to the palate. It really is a lovely complement alongside a spicy curry.

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CUCUMBER MADRAS RAITA

Method of Preparation: 

1) In a small bowl, add yogurt and stir in grated cucumber, tomato, red onion, ARVINDA'S MADRAS MASALA and salt.

2) Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Ingredients:
1 CUP yogurt
1/2 English cucumber, grated and drained
1/2 tomato, cubed (optional)
1/4 small red onion, cubed (optional)
1 TSP. ARVINDA'S MADRAS MASALA
1/2 TSP. salt or to taste
1 TBSP. cilantro, finely chopped
 

Green Salad Takeover: Madras Mapled Walnuts (for an amazing salad!)

Takeover a simple green salad with a spicy topping like these Madras Mapled Walnuts.

The best salads have lots of layers, textures and of course, a good crunch. I'm a fan of adding nuts to any salad, giving it a bit of heartiness and a quick protein boost.

But when I really want to get fancy, I always make Madras Mapled Walnuts which goes with almost any salad. I love the spiciness of every bite contrasting the greens with all the other veggies. The time investment is only about 10 minutes!

The perfect little spicy little topping to take an ordinary green salad to the next level! 


MADRAS MAPLED WALNUTS

Method of Preparation: 

1) Preheat oven to 275F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) In a saucepan, melt ghee or butter. Add maple syrup and ARVINDA'S MADRAS MASALA and mix together. Cook for 3-5 minutes on medium-high or until maple syrup slightly bubbles and reduces. Add walnuts and coat well.

3) Spread walnuts onto baking sheet and bake in oven for 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Be careful not to burn walnuts. Top on your favourite salad! This will also add an Indian bite to a cheese platter.

Ingredients:

1 CUP walnuts halves, coarsely chopped
1 TBSP. ghee or butter
¼ CUP pure Canadian maple syrup
1 ½ TSP. ARVINDA'S MADRAS MASALA

 

Masala Kale Chips

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I love my kale and if you're looking to increase your daily kale quota...then make kale chips! They're so easy to eat and enjoy, especially spiced up with masala! Yum!


MASALA KALE CHIPS

Method of Preparation: 

1) Preheat oven to 350F. After 10 minutes turn oven off.

2) Finely chop kale. In a large bowl, combine cashews, ARVINDA'S MADRAS MASALA, oil, scallions and garlic. Mix together. Add chopped kale and toss, coating all leaves.

3) Arrange on a baking sheet. Place in warm oven and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour. If they are not crispy put heat up to 200F and bake for 10 minutes.

Ingredients:
1 head kale, washed and trimmed
1/4 CUP cashews, finely ground
2 TBSP. ARVINDA'S MADRAS MASALA
1 – 2 TBSP. oil
1 TBSP. scallions, finely minced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped