Monday, 22 April 2013

Inner Beauty

Okra Ripiene di Cocco & Spezie Indiani é Riso
Indian Spiced Coconut-Stuffed Okra & Rice

Okra! It loves spices and it is so versatile... it is such a pity that people tend to think of it as some gross and slimy thing that can only be cooked into stews and casseroles... because it simply isn't! Well- unless that is what YOU turn it into! As for me- well, I turned it into something completely different this evening as you can see!

I had seen a number of recipes for coconut-stuffed okra online, but had never tried it myself until this evening, so I decided to put my own spin on what I had been reading up and make my own. I kept it mild as I am still getting over my o.p and omitted any chili- which I normally would have added and I also steamed and baked mine rather than frying it to keep down the fat- but the result was so tasty that I don't think I was missing out on much!

So, the really hot stuff was missing from this spicy filling- but there was a LOT of flavor going on all the same- I'm tellin' ya! This is how I went about making the coconut-spice paste. I started off by grinding 1 teaspoon of "Panch Puren" spice mix in my mortar and pestle, then adding 1 teaspoon of Garam Masala, 1 teaspoon of turmeric, a half teaspoon of Amchur (mango powder) and the usual salt and pepper. To this I added 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. Next came 1 clove of garlic, 1 Spring onion and about a 1" slice of ginger, all of which I also chopped as finely as possible. I stirred all of these ingredients together and added the juice of 1 lime and 5-6 finely chopped cherry tomatoes... I told you plenty of flavor went into it! Normally I would have added some chili or cayenne- but as I said... not for the moment- this evening I kept it relatively mild. Now that I had all of the ingredients together, I was able to grind them into a soft, smooth paste using the mortar and pestle- and it was this that I added my coconut flakes to, little by little until it became a firm, moist paste... pretty exciting stuff huh?

Stuffing the okra was actually not as difficult as you may think. All I did was to cut a slit into one side of each okra and gently pry it open. I squeezed it gently together, so that the slit would spread open a little, then spooned a little filling inside with a teaspoon and pressed it inside with my thumb- just gibe it a go- it may seem daunting... but it isn't!

Once the okra were filled, I placed then into a frying pan with the coconut filling facing upwards, added a couple of small pats of clarified butter and turned the heat up pretty high! I fried it for 2-3 minutes, until it began to sizzle, gently moved it around so that it could begin to brown and then deglazed the frying pan with enough boiling water to cover the bottom of the pan. I popped on the lid, let the okra steam for 3-4 minutes and then removed the lid and let the water evaporate away. And then I popped the pan into the oven and under the broiler for the next 4-5 minutes until the filling became nice and golden... and the result was pretty terrific!

I served it up with a plain Basmati rice and really enjoyed it, just as it was. The spicy coconut filling was most and juicy and delicious and there was no need for a sauce at all. And that was supper! Okra with a twist! But don't let me twist your arm to make it... take a look at my pictures and you will be wanting to make it all by yourselves! Am I right- or am I right? ;-)

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