Okra, also known as vendakkai, ladies finger or bhindi is widely used in Indian curries, poriyal (side dishes) and stir-fries. The easiest way to make vendakkai poriyal without stickiness is to cook it in the microwave. This vendakkai fry is a low-carb, low-calorie side dish you may not want to miss!
You’ll love this recipe
If you’ve ever thought that you hate okra, now is the time to change your mind. You’ll love this spicy ladies finger fry because:
- With less than 170 calories, this is the best way to eat bhindi. It needs less oil than you use for sauteing on stove-top.
- It is a quick and easy side dish with a few basic ingredients you’ll most probably have in your kitchen. If you’re looking for easy ladies finger recipes for rice, this would be perfect for a vegan dinner or lunch with rice and curry like chana masala. (I’ve listed more pairing suggestions below.)
- It is sort of hands-free cooking. Mix the okra with spices and cook in the microwave oven. Apart from tossing twice in-between, there’s nothing much you need to do. By the time you cook the main dish, this lady’s finger dry fry recipe will be ready like magic!
- The stickiness gets totally removed without spending much time frying or sauteing on the stovetop. Imagine being able to cook a healthy side dish without literally sweating out!
How to make vendakkai poriyal without stickiness
Nobody likes the stickiness in ladies finger that makes your hands, knife, chopping board and everything else it comes in contact with, sticky. I remember refusing to help my mom on days when she used to cook bhindi! But it used to turn out so delicious without being sticky at all, every single time. It was only when I started watching her cook, I realized how much oil went into the dish so it’s not slimy. (no offense, mom! We still love your vendakkai fry.)
To replicate the same amazing side dish, the moisture had to be reduced so it becomes less sticky and in turn, uses less oil. The microwave comes to our rescue here since it cooks food using moisture in the food.
So, ladies finger is cooked + stickiness removed + less oil used– feeding not 2, but 3 birds with one scone! (I hate to use the other analogy 🙂
Using a microwave for cooking ladies finger is easier and more versatile than roasting in the oven. You don’t have to spread out the okra in a single layer. (okra pieces being sooo small and sticky, it’s really a pain!) Another advantage is that the ladies finger is free of stickiness in the first 20 minutes of cooking, so you can stop cooking if you’re not keen on browning it.
- Vendakkai/ Ladies fingers– also known as okra or bhindi, this is a low-calorie, high fiber vegetable full of nutrients. (source) Choose young, tender ones.
- Onions– tastes great with okra and adds a crunch to the dish.
- Spices– cumin, coriander and chilli powder are all you need to make this awesome dish. Reduce the chilli powder according to your taste, if you feel it’s too spicy.
- Oil– I’ve used olive oil here, but any cooking oil is fine.
How to prepare vendakkai fry- step by step
(You can find the exact measurements and instructions in the recipe card at the end of this page.)
The most important step is to rinse and wipe the okra dry with a kitchen towel. The more moisture you allow, the longer it would take to get rid of the stickiness. Trim the ladies fingers and chop into about 1/2 cm rounds. Place in a wide microwave-safe bowl.
How to season ladies fingers
Mix the coriander, cumin, chilli powder, and salt. Add to the chopped ladies fingers and mix well. Add oil and toss again.
How to microwave
Cook on high power in the microwave for 10 minutes. Take out and toss with onions and curry leaves. Microwave for another 10 minutes. Remove, stir thoroughly again and cook for 10 more minutes. By now, the okra should be well cooked and soft, but if you like it a little more browned, stir and cook for 5 more minutes. You can see the difference in the fourth and fifth photos:
- WIPE THE OKRA clean before chopping.
- SPRINKLE THE SPICES evenly on the okra so they are easier to toss. (To show them clearly in the pictures, I dumped the spices on the okra, but found it hard to mix. The slime works against you! So avoid that mistake.)
- DO NOT CLOSE the bowl. The bowl should be left open throughout the cooking process.
Additions and substitutions
Ladies’ finger fry with peanuts: For extra crunch, roasted peanuts may be added before serving. Roasted and powdered peanuts can also be used for a flavor boost.
Lady’s finger fry with coconut: Dried coconut flakes may be added before serving. Or fresh desicated coconut may be added, before the last 10 minutes of cooking.
With almonds: Toasted slivered almonds can be strewn on top before serving.
What to eat ladies finger fry with?
It also pairs well with my turmeric lemon brown rice.
Health benefits of bhindi
- Biologically classified as a fruit, bhindi is packed with nutrients and particularly high in Vitamins C and K1 that helps improve your immune function and blood-clotting ability.
- It is rich in antioxidants that reduce inflammation and improve heart and brain health.
- Eating vendakkai on a regular basis helps lower blood cholesterol levels and protect your heart.
- Okra contains lectin, a protein that may help prevent the growth of cancer cells.
- Eating bhindi may help pregnant women meet their daily folate needs.
- Okra is high in fibre that helps digestion and cuts hunger cravings. (Source)
More healthy side dishes
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