The usual Indian way of preparing okra is to cut it into rounds. But when Suvir Saran was seven, he insisted that the family cook slice the okra into wispy strips. The supercrunchy result was a hit and became a family legend; today he serves it at both of his restaurants, Dévi and Véda.
In 2018, Food & Wine named this recipe one of our 40 best: Is any other vegetable as polarizing as okra? Much maligned, it definitely falls into the love-it-or-hate-it category, and even the food-loving F&W team has some naysayers. But this method for preparing okra, where it’s sliced into thin strips and fried until crispy, sways even the biggest haters. Melissa Rubel Jacobson, former F&W Test Kitchen associate, says, “I hated okra, but I had never tried it like this before. It was a total eye-opener.” It’s the brainchild of Indian chef Suvir Saran, who first thought to cut the vegetable into strips and not rounds when he was just a kid. As an adult, he took it one step further and incorporated the crispy okra into a spiced salad with crunchy onions and fresh tomatoes.
1 1/4 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 teaspoon amchoor powder (optional, see Note)
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 pound young okra—halved lengthwise and cut into long, thin strips
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced (3/4 cup)
1 medium tomato—cored, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
How to Make It
In a small bowl, combine the garam masala with the amchoor powder.
In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil to 350°. Working in batches, fry the okra strips, stirring a few times, until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried okra to a large paper towel–lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with some of the spice mixture and salt.
In a large bowl, gently toss the fried okra with the red onion, tomato, cilantro and lemon juice. Season the salad with more of the spice mixture and salt and serve immediately.
Amchoor powder, which is made from dried green mangoes, adds a fruity, tangy note to this dish. It's available at Indian markets and from Kalustyan's (800-352-3451 or kalustyans.com).
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