Living Vegan In Charlotte, NC

Bhindi Bhaji (Indian Spiced Okra) – Vegan, Gluten Free

Bhindi Sabzi

It was at my new favorite restaurant Jaipur I fell in love with bhindi bhaji.

Of course, I’d had bhindi bhaji before. (Bhindi bhaji is a “dry” curry- a dish without a sauce or gravy; something you’d eat with bread, not rice.) It’s a very popular vegetarian main dish, although it can also be served as a side item.

But the bhindi I’d had before was almost too dry – or else too overcooked and mushy. And although I love spicy food, usually I found the spices used too aggressive, masking instead of enhancing the taste of the okra.

At Jaipur, however, it was different. More stir-fried than dried out, the okra still very slightly crisp instead of mush. And the spices were subtle, allowing the taste of the okra to shine. My partner and I demolished the dish – there were no leftovers. And I came home determined to replicate it.

Note: Bhindi/okra can be found in most grocery stores year-round in the American South. Indian grocery stores also carry an abundant supply of okra throughout the year. Peak season for okra is from May through October – look for it then at farmer’s markets. Choose small, bright green pods without “age spots.” Store in a paper bag in the refrigerator and cook within a few days.

Ingredients for Bhindi Bhaji:

About 1 pound Fresh Okra

1 TBL Vegetable Oil

1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds

1 Medium Onion, diced

1-2 Green Chilis, chopped finely

2 Roma Tomatoes, diced

1 tsp minced or grated Fresh Ginger

1/2 tsp Turmeric

1/2 tsp Red Chili Powder

1 tsp Coriander

1 tsp Sea Salt

1/2 tsp Garam Masala

Chopped Fresh Cilantro, for garnishing

Directions for Bhindi Bhaji:

First, wash the okra. Okra can be slimy if you cut it while it’s wet, so either leave the okra to drain and dry in a colander for several hours, or carefully wipe each pod dry with a dish towel.

Okra / bhindi in colander

This recipe moves fast once you start cooking, so next I like to prep all my ingredients – chop the chilis, tomatoes, onions, and mince or grate the ginger. I then measure and combine the turmeric, chili powder, and coriander.

Bhindi Spices Chop the okra once it is dry. I like to cut off the tops and tails – although many people leave them on.

Okra Minus Tips and Tails

And then slice into coins. You should wind up with 2-3 cups sliced okra. Set aside.

Cut Okra/Bhindi

Now, it’s time to start cooking! Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and let them splutter and brown, 20-30 seconds. Then add the onions and chilis. Cook for about 5  minutes, then add the ginger and cook for another few minutes.

Onions and Peppers for Bhindi Bhaji

Add tomatoes and the turmeric, chili powder, and coriander. Mix.

Onions Peppers Tomatoes Spices for Bhindi Bhaji

Cook until the tomatoes have softened – another 3-4 minutes.

Onion Masala for Bhindi Bhaji

Add the sliced okra and mix well, making sure the okra is evenly coated in the masala mixture. Stir-fry for a minute or two, then reduce heat slightly, cover, and cook until okra is deep/bright green, tender but not soggy – about 6-8 minutes. There’s no need to add water – the okra will release moisture as it cooks. Stir occasionally to keep the okra from sticking to the pan. Add a touch more oil, if needed, to prevent burning.

Bhindi Bhaji in pan

When okra is almost done, add the salt and garam masala. Stir and cook, uncovered, for another minute or so. (Keep the lid off the pan from this point on, to avoid sogginess.)

Garnish with a large handful of chopped cilantro. Best served with roti and unsweetened yogurt – although I’ve devoured bowls of this plain, without bread!

VegCharlotte Bhindi Bhaji




Tagged as: , , , , ,

Categorised in: Indian & Indian Fusion, Meatless Mains, Vegan Recipes

3 Responses »

  1. Looks great! Wonderful pictures.

  2. Looks yummy. Is it possible to use frozen okra instead of fresh?

    • Hi, Mavis! I’m sure you can use frozen okra – in fact, I’m pretty sure the bhindi masala I had at Bombay Bistro in Austin, TX last week used frozen okra. I would get frozen pre-sliced okra (instead of the frozen whole pods) and thaw first. Let me know how that works out!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Creative Commons License
VegCharlotte - Living Vegan in Charlotte, NC by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
%d bloggers like this: