How to Make Bhindi Masala: Okra Gone Indian Style

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Bhindi masala is one of my favorite Indian dishes. Okra, often maligned in American cuisine, is transformed by the addition of Indian spices into as delicious a vegetable as can be imagined. I ate bhindi masala all across India and became quite a connoisseur: I realized, upon my return to the USA, that I was simply going to have to learn to make it myself. Which I did. And now I will tell you. This is a very simple bhindi masala, a rather half-assed variant on a dish that can get very tasty and rich indeed. I use no ghee, I don't grind the spices myself, and I generally exist in a state of pleasant and American laziness. I still think it tastes pretty good. I'll also show you how to make some simple Indian spinach - now that's easy. First, you are going to need some okra. If everyone present really really likes bhindi, a good pound should feed around three people with leftovers. If there are people present who consider okra to be an agent of Satan, budget for less. Of course, you may convert them. Cut the bhindi. I like to slice them in half - I think it makes them cook faster. Now, and this is VERY IMPORTANT, wash the heck out of these guys. Wash them once, wash them twice, wash them again. This helps eliminate quite a bit of the dreaded slime factor. You should also chop two whole tomatoes while you're at it. Cut a white onion , throw it in a pan, and saute until it all starts getting clear. This should be self evident. Next, throw in about 1 and a half teaspoons of minced garlic and ginger. Add more or less depending on personal preference: I often up the ginger. Cook this briefly until the garlic starts to color. Now you'll be adding your spices. Toss in: 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, 2 teaspoons of coriander, and 2 teaspoons of cumin. Mix it up. DO NOT ADD SALT: it makes okra slimier during the cooking process. > Now add your two chopped tomatoes. Stir, mix up, get a bit of heat on them. The big moment! Toss in your bhindi, as well as a teaspoon or two of garam masala. Add a bit of water if the mixture looks too dry. Cook on high heat for about four minutes or so, stirring continuously. Then, turn the heat down to low and cover. Bhindi is best if cooked for about 20 minutes. Check on it and stir occasionally. Bam! This is what you should end up with. It is now okay to add salt: it will not activate your bhindi's sliminess receptors. But that's not all! Here's how I do super-fast Indian spinach. Get yourself a white onion and slice that sucker up. Throw it in a pan or wok and stir-fry until clear. Add 1 and a half teaspoons of ginger and garlic, respectively. You may also add some whole mustard seeds. If desired, slice and add a tomato, and stir-fry for a bit. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="450" caption="spinach raw"]spinach raw[/caption] Once that's all together, add your spinach. You will probably need about one bag of spinach a person, depending on the spinach-loving proclivities of your guests. Keep on adding in clumps as it cooks down. Cook until it wilts and ta-da, you're done! If I was doing this real-Indian style, I'd cook it much longer and run it through a food processor, and add some ghee or milk or cream. There you go: vegetarian Indian food that any idiot can cook. Go forth and eat!