If you’ve ever heard anything about okra it probably hasn’t been anything good. It isn’t a commonly used vegetable in Australia despite it’s ability to grow well in a very hot climate. In Australia you will most commonly see it in curries or stir fries, which I’ve had a few of and thoroughly enjoyed. However, when they are cooked by this method they release a gelatinous fluid, great as a thickening agent but also a texture that lots of people don’t enjoy. So, to try something different, I started looking into some lesser known ways of preparing them and through some recommendations from friends, and some research, I came across a few recipes for stuffed okra or ‘ Bharwan Bhindi’. Bharwan Bindi is an indian dish of stuffed okra and is usually deep fired and served alongside curries and rice. I wanted to make them a little more healthy and so baked them, and rather than have them as a side, served them alongside other delicious deli goods, dips and flatbread as a kind of middle eastern mezze feast. It was so moorish and delicious. Fun to eat and share at a big table with some drinks and friends.
4 tbs desiccated coconut
6 tbs chopped cashews
4 tbs sesame seeds
2 tbs chopped parsley
2 tbs chopped coriander
1 long red chilli, de-seeded, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh turmeric, grated
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp each of ground cumin, coriander and garam masala
3 prunes, finely chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
salt and pepper
lime wedges, yoghurt, harissa, olives, hummus, flat breads and any other deli goods, to serve OR, serve alongside a dahl or other curry and some rice, raita and flatbreads. (all optional)
Pre-heat oven to 180 Degrees Celcius. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Wash the okra with cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Leave on a clean tea-towel to dry while you prepare the stuffing.
For the stuffing, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and use your hands to really mix well and combine the flavours. Test if it’s wet enough by squeezing together in your hand, it should hold it’s shape. If it’s too dry and crumbly, add a little more oil.
For the okra, trim off the tops and cut a slit down one side, lengthways, without going through to the other side. Slide your thumb down through the cut to pry open enough space to put the stuffing in.
Use your fingers to press the stuffing into each okra, you will need about 1 tsp of stuffing per okra. Rub the outside of each okra with the mixture as well, it won’t stick but it will add flavour.
Lay them all on the lined tray, cut side up, and drizzle with a little extra olive oil.
Bake for 25-30 mins or until stuffing is dark golden and okra is tender.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on tray for 5 mins before serving on their own or with your choice of sides.