Does the idea of mushy, slimy bhindi drag you kicking and screaming back to your childhood? Well, you’re not alone. Ladies’ finger, okra, bhindi whatever you prefer to call it, there are many that share a hatred for the edible seed pod that is such an integral part of Indian cooking. Love it or loathe it, you can’t deny that it sometimes suffers from a sticky texture that is less than pleasant. This is because okra pods produce mucilage, a natural, soluble fibre that comes from sugar residue and causes an unpleasant texture. 

It’s given okra a bad rap across the world which is a shame considering their huge benefits and diverse uses. Technically a fruit but treated like a vegetable, it’s packed full of Vitamin C for immunity boosting, Vitamin K for healthy blood flow, polyphenols for heart and brain health and folates which promote growth and are especially useful during pregnancy. Okra can also be prepared in multiple ways to fit every taste but the first step towards letting these advantages shine is to deal with the texture issues.

Also Read: 6 Delicious Bhindi Recipes For Lunch

There are a few ways to circumvent the mucilage and ensure that your okra is crunchy and slime-free. Deep frying takes overpowers the feeling while stuffing them helps mask and absorb the mucilage. The addition of acidic ingredients such as lemon, vinegar and even tomatoes can help break down the fibres and reduce the stickiness. Another approach is slow cooking okra over a long period of time which breaks down the mucilaginous materials. 

Another popular and delicious preparation comes from the southern states of America. Okra is a commonly used ingredient in soul food and Creole food – cuisines that mirror the food cultures of the south’s immigrant and slave past. Okra pickle makes use of vinegar as an acid to remove the mucilage leaving the final pickle crunchy and tart. The additional flavours can be adjusted according to your preference to be spicy, fresh, herby or aromatic. Okra pickles can be used in the same way as pickled jalapenos or gherkins for sandwiches, salads or just as a fresh bite on the side of any dish. 

Ingredients:

  • 200 gms Fresh Okra
  • 100 gms Garlic Cloves
  • 250 ml Vinegar
  • 500 ml Water
  • 2 tbsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 2 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 1 tsp Peppercorns

Method:

1.    Add the coriander seeds, pepper flakes, peppercorns, and fennel seeds to a large sterile jar.

2.    Rinse the okra and trim off the tops.

3.    Pack the okra and garlic cloves vertically into the jar.

4.    Bring the vinegar, water, salt and sugar to a boil on medium heat until all dissolved.

5.    Cool the liquid to room temperature then add to the jar and cover the okra.

6.    Refrigerate and let sit for at least 24 hours.