Vegan Okra Stir Fry
Updated: Oct 5, 2021
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Okra is one of the most controversial vegetables. I have never heard of anyone who tolerates Okra...most people love it or hate it. The people who dislike okra, mostly grew up eating it with the stringy (almost slimy) texture. Of course these are huge generalizations and I realize that some people may simply dislike the vegetable. However, if you hate okra due to it's slimy texture, try this recipe and let me know if I was able to change your mind.
To all my (Tamil) Indian readers, this is obviously the classic vendakkai poriyal recipe. If you grew up in a Tamil household, you most likely grew up eating Okra prepared this way, and most of us love it. This is a simple recipe and comes together in under 20 minutes. The most labor intensive part is cutting the okra.
Before we get into the recipe, here are some tips to prevent the okra from sticking. Read them carefully as these work every time.
You need a flour on hand to soak up the sliminess. Chickpea flour is mostly commonly use as it adds flavor and keeps the okra crispy.
You need to add something that is acidic. The two most commonly used ingredients are lime juice or yogurt. Tomato is often used in North India, but that will change the texture of your poriyal/stir fry. Since I wanted to make this vegan friendly, I used lime, but if you consume dairy, I would recommend 1-2 Tbs of yogurt. And, no, don't substitute vegan yogurt. I have never tried it, and I would not recommend using vegan yogurt.
Do not cover your pot with a lid. This has to be cooked in a pot or pan that can handle the sticky nature of okra. Moisture is not your friend. I would recommend a enamel cast iron, well seasoned cast iron, or nonstick. At the end of the post, I have linked my favorite pot for Indian cooking so make sure to check it out.
Be patient...I know, shocking! There is a period when cooking this dish, the okra will become sticky. Do not stress. Do not add more oil and definitely do not add water. Trust the process, it will work.
If you follow these tips, I am positive you will end up with delicious non sticky okra!
2 Tbs of Refined Sesame oil
1 lb of Okra (should yield 3-4 C when chopped)
1/2 Tsp of Cumin seeds
1/2 Tsp of Mustard seeds (optional)*
4-5 Curry Leaves
Pinch of Asafoetida
1 tsp of Coriander powder
1 Tsp of Cumin powder
1/2 Tsp of Turmeric
1 Tsp of Sambar Powder*
2 Tbs of Chickpea Flour
Juice of 1/4 of lime or 1 Tbs of Yogurt
Salt to taste
Wash the okra and dry on a kitchen towel. Chop the okra into small disks. Make sure to trim the corners and discard them.
In a heavy bottom pan, at medium high heat, add the oil and let it heat. This should take 30-60 seconds.
Add the mustard seeds and let them pop. Once they pop, add the cumin, curry leaves, and asafoetida. Let this cook for 30 seconds.
Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and sambar powder to the oil. Let the spices cook till the aroma releases into the oil. This is very quick and should take under a minute.
Add the chopped okra, salt, and stir well to combine the vegetable with the oil and spices.
After several minutes, you will see the okra get sticky and thin strings will appear. This is will happen within 5-7 minutes but pay attention to the texture, not the time. This is where the art of cooking comes into play. When you see the strings, add the chickpea flour and combine everything.
Cook the okra, until all the stickiness is almost gone. Do Not Close the pan/pot with a lid. Keep stirring it to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom.
When most of the stickiness is gone and the okra is cooked, lower the heat to medium low flame. Add the lime juice or yogurt.
Cook for a 3-5 minutes and it is ready to serve. The okra should be tender but some crispiness should be present especially from the chickpea flour.
*You can use Garam Masala if you cannot find Sambar powder.
* If you cant find mustard seeds, I would recommend skipping it. I have cooked this with and without mustard seeds and I actually prefer it without mustard seeds.
If your okra starts sticking to the pan, you most likely didn't use the right pan (#sorrynotsorry). However, if this happens, you can add 1-2 Tsp of oil when cooking.
If you use any of these tips of make my recipes, make sure to tag me on Instagram. Happy Cooking!