Udupi-Style Bendekai: Healthy And Delicious Stir-Fry Okra
Image Credit: Okra Stir Fry

Lady’s finger stir-fry or Udupi-style bendekai is a dish that can be had on repeat mode. Easy to prepare with such unique flavours, the recipe is a sure shot to elevate a boring meal to another level. In this dish, bhindi, bendekai, okra, or lady’s finger is tempered with spices and coconut. It is also an ideal dish for a lunchbox.

Lady’s finger is a vegetable that’s immensely rich in proteins, Vitamin A, B, C, and K1. While Vitamin K1 is a fat-soluble vitamin renowned for its involvement in blood clotting, Vitamin C, a water-soluble essential, aids a body's overall immunological function. Okra contains polyphenols, including flavonoids and isoquercetin. A particular class of protein called lectin is found in okra, that may prevent the development of human cancer cells. Mucilage, a thick gel-like material found in okra, can attach to cholesterol during digestion, preventing it from being absorbed into your body and causing it to be expelled with faeces.

It also contains calcium, potassium and folic acid.  The vegetable can also play a role in managing diabetes and offers health benefits due to its low calorie count and high levels of soluble and insoluble fibre. Being rich in magnesium, lady’s finger keeps migraine in check. With a low glycaemic index of 20, bhindi is effective in controlling blood sugar spikes. Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and omega 6 fatty acids, it is a good option for memory and brain health.

This dish belongs to the sublime Udupi cuisine. In close proximity to Mangaluru, in the Western Ghats, is the temple town of Udupi. It is believed that Udupi food took birth in the kitchens of the Lord Krishna temple where Shivalli Brahmins began creating elegant dishes. Associated with temples, the cuisine is largely sattvic without any onion and garlic. Needless to say, it is dominated by vegetarian food.

Udupi cuisine has quite a few okra recipes, like Bendekai Saasmi. But today we present another recipe of bhindi, which is palya or a dry preparation. It is a stir fry prepared in the Udupi style that can be served with rice and rasam. 


  • 250 gm lady’s finger 
  • 1½ tsp salt 
  • ½ tsp jaggery

For grinding:

  • ⅓ cup coconut 
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds 
  • 2 red chillies

For tempering:

  • 1 tbsp oil 
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp white lentils
  • A few curry leaves


  • Take 250 gms ladies finger. Wash, wipe and chop the vegetables. 
  • In a pan, add 1 tbsp oil, ½ tsp mustard oil, ½ tsp white lentils and saute till they start to crackle. 
  • Add a few curry leaves. 
  • Transfer the chopped ladies finger to the pan and mix. 
  • Add ½ tsp jaggery, juice from marble sized tamarind (soaked).
  • Add 1.5 tsp salt, and 1/4th tsp turmeric powder and stir it well but gently. 
  • Cover it with a lid and let it cook until soft on low flame. 
  • Open the lid after 5-6 minutes and stir it again gently. 
  • In a blender ⅓ cup grated coconut, one dry red chilli, one spicy red chilli, ½ tsp mustard seeds. 
  • Coarse grindly without any water. 
  • Add this mix to the lady’s finger being cooked and mix well. 
  • Switch off the flame after two minutes. 
  • Lady’s finger fry is ready. Serve it with chapati or team it up with rice and rasam.