Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Coconut Overload ! Okra smothered in coconut. Simplicity and taste.

For the final 3 years of my graduation, we lived in Santacurz, Mumbai. We had moved there from my childhood home in Wadala. I was not very happy about that. I was strongly attached to Wadala and spent my formative years there and  had many memories and found it hard to let go.  On moving to the new place, I promptly fell ill and  in that fevered state of mind, dreamed that I was recovering in my old home. I still could not call the new place home, it just didn't feel like it. I would unfairly compare everything and everyone. I am surprised I ever made friends or the fact that people even looked at me, I looked like a grumpy bear most of the time.
And then, I liked something. To begin with.. there was ( and probably still is) a 'chaatwalla' on the corner from a  Temple ( behind Aarya Samaj, for those who know it) who sold *mind blowing chaat*, hands down the best I'd eaten. My regard for the new place went up just a notch.
Often, a friend and I would walk down a lane ( I cannot recollect the name, but the landmark was near 'Rakhi's Bunglow' and by that I mean Rakhi Gulzar- as in the yesteryear Bollywood actress not any other infamous Rakhi, thank you) and we would feast on the variety of dosas at the street corner there. She and I  were regulars and the bhaiyya  knew just 'how spicy' we needed our dosas. 
These  food haunts were told to me  by my neighbor's son, who was also fond of junk food and that is probably how I  first talked to him. Strange how food is connected to so many emotions. And how food connects people.
There  is this one trait in Indian families and I am sure it is spread across the nation, we like to share good food. 
What I liked about having neighbors (one of the things) is the 'food exchange' that happened. Your neighbor will just knock on the door and hand you a bowl of steaming hot food with a, " I just made this, see how you like it" and pop back home. And then, you make something and give her a sample in her bowl, when you return it.
My neighbor was a home maker and also ran a day care at home. She would often drop in and bring a bowl of something delicious. One day, we got talking and the topic was diverted to vegetables and I mentioned that okra was my favorite. And she came over the next day with a bowl of Okra smothered in coconut, I greedily ate it and loved it. The simplicity and the mild flavors captured my palette. Years later, I made this in my kitchen and no surprise, I still love this version.
 The easy part is you can completely eyeball the ingredients and  it still turns out great!

You need: (this is an approximation only)

2 cups chopped Okra
1/2 large Onion chopped
2 Green Chiles ( + / - to taste) slit in the middle  and left whole
Salt to taste
1 tsp. heaped  Cumin powder and Coriander powder- each -
1 Tsp Cumin seed
1/2 cup  Fresh shredded Coconut
2Tbsp Oil

Wash, pat dry and trim the cap and tail end of the okra and  slice into round pieces.
Heat Oil, on medium high, add the cumin seeds, they should sizzle on contact
Add the green chiles , stir fry for  about 15 seconds or so
Add the chopped onion and stir fry to coat with the oil and spices
Once the onion is  translucent, add the okra and  increase the heat to high.
Stir- fry and coat the okra with oil and monitor carefully   to ensure that the okra is not burnt, however, maintain high heat. This will ensure that the okra is not slimy ( though there is a stage when it will look like that and here the high heat will ensure that it goes away)
Sprinkle in the salt , cumin and coriander powder once the okra is cooked. Reduce the heat to med high
Coat the onion and okra in the spice 
Finally add in the shredded coconut and mix well. 
Cook for a couple of minutes till the coconut flavor mingles, but the coconut does not turn brown. 
Serve hot with roti/ fulkas.

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  1. simple yet delicious recipes for okra....a treat to the taste buds and tummy!!

  2. Good that brought back ur childhood memories :)
    It sure looks delightful :)

  3. Delicious dish, a prefect side dish for rice..

  4. Aah That is India, the neigh. cares about us. Even when we ran out of curry leaves/veggie u shop to
    ur neigh. Here, we even don't know their last name , when they come , etc...
    I love Okra with coconut touch, delicious.

  5. Aren't the simple dishes the best..haven't really combined okra with coconut..will try!

    US Masala

  6. I love this dish for its simple flavours.. Okra is my all time fav :)

  7. That looks and sounds wonderful! I love okra but have never cookes that veggie. With rice It'd be just perfect.



  8. Dear Manasi, What delicious memories, and yes, we Indians do love to share food, don't we? I smiled when you talked about the okra because that has always been my favorite veggie too. Thanks for this gorgeous recipe-- do you think it would work with frozen okra? That's the only kind I can find in winter (I grow my own in summer), but frozen okra tends to have a slimier texture.

  9. And a very joyous Makar Sankranti to you too!

  10. I've bought okra to cook thismweek and will definitelynmake it with the coconut as you've suggested.

    Very best wishesnfornthe newnyear to you and the family!

  11. Thank U Roshan.

    Thank you T, I like the simplicity of the dish.

    Thank U Priya

    Thanks Cham, I miss those neighbors and friends.. out here, I have NO idea who lives next door :(

    True, Aipi, simplicity is the best, this makes all the flavors stand out.

    Ah Uj, u are another okra fancier! I love it too.

    Thanks Rosa, it does taste good with rice.
    Vaishali, thank u! You could try it with frozen okra, it will not taste as good as frozen okra is a lot slimier and the okra just falls apart ( don't know how I can explain this better).

    Thank u Cynthia! Hope u like this combination.

  12. We call this dish is as thoran. I love vendakka thoran( okra with coconut and cumin seeds). Thanks for visiting my blog. you have nice space too. Give it try to Parker house rolls, they won't fail you. you are going to love them.

  13. I had this food exchange more in US , never in India:(
    I want to try coconut in my okra too. looks nice!

  14. Hi Manasi

    Okra preparation looks yummy and so healthy.
    Even today, I miss my childhood days in Haridwar. Take Care.

    Hamaree Rasoi

  15. Stumbled here from Jugalbandi. My aunt lives in Santacruz (W) and I think I have also eaten at the chaat wala you mention here. One thing we are so thankful for is this Sandwich Masala (Swastik) brand that my pishi introduced us to. Thought I'd mention it to you since you too lived in the same place I spent many vacations growing up.

  16. @ PreeOccupied: Do u mean the s'wich stall near the station (west)? I remember the hole-in-the-wall store that did a ROARING business, and the sandwich! God! Out of this world! I used to have the masala when we lived there too :)


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