Indian Cooking 201 -- Recipe #4: Crunchy Okra

Indian Cooking 201 — Recipe #4: Crunchy Okra

Indian okra dish in copper bowl

Indian Cooking 201 – In this lesson you will learn how to prepare an authentic Indian vegetable dish with ground spices and ingredients easily found in your local supermarket

  • Explore a vegetable you might not otherwise have considered: okra
  • Learn how supermarket staples like ground cornmeal can become easy substitutes for Indian ingredients like ground chick pea flour (besan) for an authentic Indian dish
  • As with all 201 level recipes, you will learn how to make authentic Indian dishes using mostly ground spices that you can find at your local supermarket (no need to go to an Indian grocer quite yet)
  • You will continue to master my 5-10-5 Rule — a cheat sheet I created for my husband Sean of the basic things you need in your pantry to make a variety of delicious Indian dishes

Whether or not you’re a fan of vegetables, as my sister described in her post How to order at an Indian restaurant for the first time, curries with eggplant or spinach may not seem appetizing at first glance. But when prepared the Indian way, they can make for truly delicious dishes. This certainly rings true for okra. However, many people don’t like okra. At all. But as I wrote about in my post Everybody loves okra? most people who frown (or worse) at the  mention of okra have likely had it boiled and were turned off by the mushy, squishy texture that resulted. I don’t blame them–I would be turned off too. That is, if my first experiences with okra hadn’t been knock-your-socks off delicious shards of smoky, herbaceous goodness. The fact is, okra is ubiquitous all over the world, and today you will find it in dishes in India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, North America, and Brazil. If you live in the United States you probably associate okra with Cajun or Creole cooking, most typically ‘fried okra’ or okra in ‘gumbo.’ Most supermarkets carry okra, so if you’ve never bought or cooked it, I hope I peak your curiosity with this recipe — it will decisively complete your Indian Cooking 201 training and you will be more than ready for Indian Cooking 301!

In this lesson you will make Crunchy Okra, which is one my favorite ways to prepare okra — it’s quick, delicious, and there is zero slime. Or mush. Or squishiness. Plus, as with all of Big Apple Curry’s Indian Cooking 201 lessons, you can find all the ingredients in your local supermarket. The original recipe calls for dusting the fresh okra lightly in chick pea flour (besan) but an easy substitute is ground corn meal, which you can usually find in the organic aisle or the aisle with cereals or cans of beans & legumes.

Crunchy Okra

Serves 6 


  • 1 lb fresh okra (I use two 10 ounce packages, which equals just over a pound)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground corn meal flour
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (you may need a touch more as you fry the batches)

Before serving

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala


  1. Cut the round end off each piece of okra and slice lengthwise into 4 thin slices and spread on a tray.
  2. In a bowl mix together ground corn meal, salt, chili powder, garam masala, and onion powder.
  3. Sprinkle mixture on okra slices and toss gently so that okra pieces are evenly coated. Divide into 4 batches.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Fry each portion of okra pieces, ensuring the slices don’t stick to each other. Remove from pan to a platter with a slotted spoon when they are crispy and cooked.
  5. Repeat with the remaining batch. Add a little more canola oil as needed.
  6. Once all the batches are done, toss with more salt and garam masala before serving.

Tips & Tricks

Keep these things in mind to ensure your okra doesn’t become mushy or slimy:

  • Fresh versus frozen okra. Never use frozen okra for this dish, only fresh okra. Believe me, I’ve tried it. Doesn’t work.
  • Wash the okra BEFORE you cut it. Be sure to wash the okra and then let it dry completely before you slice or chop — it must be completely dry! When I first started cooking after college, I would slice the fresh okra in rounds and then wash them in a colander with water. Big mistake. Huge. Slime takes over in a matter of minutes, and it will stick to your hands, kitchen towel, and counter.
  • Don’t let any water drip into the skillet. Make this dish with the skillet uncovered; if you make another recipe that calls for using a cover, don’t let any of the water or condensation from the lid drip into the okra.
Ingredients for Indian okra dish

Starting from the top: fresh okra, ground corn meal, salt, onion powder, garam masala, red chilli powder

Slicing okra lengthwise for Indian okra dish

Cut the round end off each okra pod and slice lengthwise into 4 strips

Combining spices in a small bowl for Indian okra dish

In a small bowl, combine ground corn meal, garam masala, salt, red chilli powder, and onion powder

Tossing okra slices gently with spice mixture

Toss okra slices gently with spice mixture

Frying okra in a non-stick skillet with canola oil

Dividing the okra into 4 small batches, drop the first batch into a wide non-stick skillet that’s been heated with canola oil; make sure the slices don’t stick to each other

Frying okra in a non-stick skillet with canola oil

The okra will fry quickly; turn a few over at a time with a wooden spoon so they’re browned and crispy on both sides

Adding salt and garam masala to fried okra

Once all the batches are done, add additional salt and garam masala and combine well; here I returned all the batches to the skillet and did so

Indian okra dish