Thursday, December 30, 2010

Simple Lunches - 23 (Frozen Okra stir fry)

The year that was ...
I made a resolution at the beginning of the year to learn about the sources of the foods we consume and in the process share them in the blog. I learned a lot and along the way got disheartened that so much of what we consume today is loaded with chemicals, sugar and salt. But every dark cloud has to have a silver lining right? So over the course of the year I have come to an uncomfortable truce with the supermarkets.

I try my bestest to follow Michael Pollan's advice to keep away from foods which have more than 5 ingredients and to avoid foods that grandma would not recognize. But try finding foods within that ingredient count. That is another matter altogether. Climbing Mt.Everest is probably easier. Often these rules get broken for foods that have to be bought - bread, cereal, muffins and bagels. Sometimes for frozen stuff which come in very handy for those hungry evening times.

The debate over whether organic, locally grown or conventional produce is best is an ongoing one. Price, quality or sustainability? I do what works best for me, there is no hard and fast rule. If I see an organic head of cauliflower alongside a locally grown one I pick the locally grown one. I tend to always buy organic milk and preferably free roaming organic eggs. Chicken I buy only from my beloved Amish market. Organic, fresh (truly) and very reasonable. What more can one ask. I am sorry to admit I have cut down greatly on eating fish for the simple fact that I am afraid. This will change in the coming year.

To tell you the truth the best time was in the spring/summer when I was able to grow my own vegetables. Besides being a soothing and rewarding activity the taste was hard to beat. This has only increased the longing to go back to my grand-folks profession. One can dream can't they?

Coming from a culture where clean plates is emphasized meaning you eat everything that has been served I have changed enough to emphasize not to eat more than it is possible, and that to simply clean the plate because there are several others in the world without food. We cleaning our plate is not going to help them. We have to find ways to deal with that problem. So I ask my kids to serve what they can and to serve more only if they want more. In the unlikely event when they over serve they are not to stuff themselves.

Obesity is the biggest epidemic of our times and to learn from a young age not to overeat is not just an important lesson but an essential one. The one thing that endeared me to the First Lady was her Let's Move campaign. This is one campaign that everyone leaving aside party stripes should jump on blindfolded.

It is best to ignore hypocrites like Sarah Palin(got my goat with her recent comment) who have no clue the changed circumstances and world order that the US finds itself in today. Disparaging Hollywood and then encouraging your daughter to act and dance on TV is one thing, spewing hateful rhetoric and then accepting millions for the books from the same elites she so freely condemns but making fun of a campaign that emphasizes kids to eat healthier and become more active?. I know it is best not to pay heed to dimwits like her. But,

She clearly crossed the line when she made fun of the Let's move campaign. Let the mama grizzly feed her kids tons of sugar and fat and park them in front of the TV to watch the inanities she spews but leave the rest of our kids out. She who sees conspiracy in everything also wants kids to exercise their god given right to eat junk. So be it but keep it among your family. Thank you.

Seriously how did eating locally, healthier become elitist? Isn't this how our forefathers lived? How did eating right become a liberal agenda?

Take a look at this post by my friend Kay in her healthy living blog.

To round out the year here is a simple lunch suggestion. Buying okras has always been an unpleasant experience(broken stems anyone?). Bhindi subji is a big favorite in DD's friend's house. It is in ours too but buying them is a chore. On checking with her friend's mom she mentioned that she never bothers with fresh okra and uses frozen ones. I was skeptical at first wondering about the slime and the hours it was going to take to get that out and how soggy it was going to get. I was wrong on all counts. Cooks very fast, the slime is not noticeable and the end product is far from soggy.

The trick is to not thaw the okra and add it directly to the pan to cook. Never cook okra without lemon juice or amchur powder. Yogurt or even tamarind pulp works. They all help in reducing the slime. I do not know the science behind it but it works.

Frozen Okra Stir Fry
1. 1lb Cut frozen okra
2. 1/2 cup onions sliced
3. 1/2 tbsp sambhar or red chili powder + 1 tsp turmeric powder
4. 2 broken dried red chilies
5. 1 tbsp lemon juice or 2 tsp amchur powder
6. seasonings: curry leaves, cumin seeds, mustard seeds
7. salt to taste
8. 2 tsp of oil

1. In a wide mouthed pan, heat the oil and add the seasonings, when the mustard splutters add the red chilies and when it turns slightly black
2. Add the onions and saute for a few minutes till they are translucent
3. Now add the okra and let it cook covered for 4-5 minutes till the okra pieces are separate
4. Open the lid add the lemon juice or amchur powder, turmeric powder and sambhar powder and saute for a few minutes
5. Close the lid again and let the okra get fully cooked. Open and stir gently occasionally to avoid sticking to the bottom
6. Open the lid and saute till the desired texture is obtained
We like it a little bit soft but if you like it crunchier saute a bit longer.
Lemon juice, amchur powder, tamarind pulp or even yogurt all help in reducing the slime. They generally add some tartness so use accordingly.

Serve as a side for soft chapatis or any rice dish.

Wishing you all a Very Happy New Year with good eats and lots of laughter.


  1. This is my favorite too, very easy to prepare and takes no time at all.

  2. I've learnt much from your daily musings, Indo. Thanks for your blog and wishing you a wonderful year ahead.

    Truly, eating well and gratefully and being a happy active person is what it is all about- simple and timeless.

  3. wish ya happy new yr 2011

  4. That roti looks so fluffy and love that okra.
    Have a wonderful New Year dear Indo! :-)

  5. Is this chopped frozen okra Indo ? I have used the whole but never got the chopped ones. I love bhindi bhaji with lime juice.

    You and your lovely family have the happiest year ahead. Much love and wishes for the new year.

  6. Wishing u a happy and prosperous new year to u and ur family..Delicious and my favourite too..

  7. This is my kind of lunch. Love the recipe, simple, easy and healthy!

  8. Have a wonderful new year filled with happiness!!! Much love to you and yours!

    Reading your posts on foods, where they come from and also posts on our garden were heartwarming!!

  9. Have a wonderful New Year - filled with love, happiness and all the dreams come true.


  10. ISG, please plant some okra in a pot this spring!! I promise it will grow, and you will never have to contend with a broken stem again :)

    I use frozen okra alot. I will admit I have never cooked it on its own as a vegetable, but add it to soups, sambhar etc. The stir fry looks great.

    As usual, your insights are a treat to read -- wishing you and your family a happy and healthy new year!!

  11. Your posts are always so informative Indo. Sorry I missed many of your posts. But wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year, hope you have a great year ahead!

  12. Indo,
    You have written some very good informative posts in the past about eating sensibly organic and the sources of food etc..and about frozen things..somebody told me that frozen is packed when the harvesting is well the most freshest and in peek season which means the quality is never it becomes little difficult to pick between frozen and fresh not to mention the quality of the fresh ingredients like broken stem, blemishes etc we do get sometimes..
    and i love this simple home cooked meal over any cookies or cake in the world..
    Wish you and yours a very happy and prosperous new year ahead..
    hugs and smiles

  13. Hi Indo,

    Terrific post; not to mention terrific recipe!

    I am with you all the way re Sarah Palin. The woman is a shame to the female gender, and living example of how people are more forthcoming with ways to stop progress than otherwise.

    It is rather disheartening to think that those blinded by their selfish agendas get to have a voice in today's media.

    Perhaps part of pur purpose can be spreading the joy of healthy eating, cooking and the human connection through that; as you and your blog are clearly doing. I am truly inspired!

    Here's to many more such joyous occassions..!


  14. Just popped in to wish you and yours a wonderful new year ahead!

  15. Hi Indo,

    Wish you a Happy 2011 too.
    I agree with you about the local vs organic debate. Well said! its at best an ongoing one.

    Yesterday we had one of our family friends come over and her son loves okra.I remembered your recipe here, I tried it and it turned out great, thanks!

  16. lovely post--thoughtful and well written ! Have a Great 2011 !


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