In 2008 I spent a hot sweaty month backpacking South India with my friends Nava and Stephanie.
Although we visited several breathtakingly beautiful cities, one city particularly underwhelmed me. Madurai. It was unbearably hot, crowded (India, shocker!), our sketchy hotel room smelled like bat shit and I remember we all got groped. I don’t want to give Madurai a bad rap because really, its probably a very wonderful city. It’s got this incredible Hindu temple that attracts up to 25,000 visitors A DAY and blab blah blah let’s get to the food.
One evening we escaped the oppression of our stanky room and visited a fancy hotel to dine at their rooftop restaurant. That night my mind and tastebuds were blown by a dish I ordered: garlic chilli okra. For years following that night I tried to find a recipe for what I had eaten but I kept coming up short.
Then, one day it hit me–WHAMMY– what if I made OKRA FRIES!? And breaded them in a garlic chili coating. My life has substantially improved ever since.
People love these okra fries. I’ve yet to make them for anyone who has disliked them. This dish is a great idea to serve if you’re making Indian food, or Thai food or as a snack or appetizer when people come over.
What you’ll need:
- Some healthy looking okra, large pieces that are as green and CLEAN looking as possible.
- Chickpea flour/farine de pois chiche (also called besan or gram flour, you can get this at an Indian food place or in the Asian section of a grocery store.)
- Crushed chili flakes (and your choice of other spices such as chilli powder, turmeric, cumin, curry powder etc.)
- Lemon or lime
- Olive oil
What to do:
Rinse the okra and cut the tops off. Then cut them lengthwise so they’re in halves or thirds, depending on their size.
Put all the okra pieces in a bowl or a giant ziplock bag and pour a whole bunch of olive oil on everything then toss up so all the okra is coated. Then shake some chickpea flour all over everything. Press some garlic cloves in a garlic press and add that to the bowl. Add all the spices as well. Toss everything up so the okra slices are coated all over with chickpea flour and spices.
The best way to do this is to let the pieces sit in the bowl (or even better, the ziplock bag) for as long as possible. If you allow the combined oil and flour to sit, it gets thick and pasty and makes a nice crusty coating for the okra
Spread the slices out on a baking sheet that’s been covered with some parchment paper or foil. Bake in the oven at 350 for like 12 minutes or until they get nice and crunchy but not burnt. When they come out of the oven you can squeeze lemon or lime juice on them!
Serve them with some homemade tzatziki (recipe coming soon) or of course, some mint chutney!