It’s been just over 2 months since we planted our Lady’s Fingers or okra plants. I have been consulting the ‘Heavy Metal Farmer’ through his blog and have gained a lot of valuable information on growing your own vegetables. We had a minor scare when I saw tiny white specks on the veges about two weeks ago. So I emailed the ‘Heavy Metal Farmer’ who assured me that these were just eggs of some insect and could be wiped off, without affecting the Lady’s Finger or making it unsafe to eat. I also spotted the possibility of the Mosaic virus on a few older leaves but these have not turned out to be too severe. If you are interested in Hydroponics – growing vegetables without soil but essential nutrients instead – do check out his blog for details.
So we finally harvested the Lady’s Fingers and sadly we had allowed them to grow too big and they had dried out. So the outer skin was bright green and the fruit was not packed with moisture or slime when I cut in to them. For the next batch we are going to harvest them a lot sooner when they are a dark green. The fruits might be smaller in length but they will be the right texture.
Despite not having our own okra to cook with I had to have some anyway. So I thought I’d share my favourite recipe for using them which is sliced and fried with mustard seeds, chilli powder, turmeric and salt.
Fight the okra slime: People are afraid of Lady’s Fingers because of the slime they release which makes it difficult to cook with. They are slimy because they retain a lot of moisture. You can either load up on the oil when frying them which is terribly unhealthy but will counter the slime released. Or you can use a little oil and begin with a high heat, then reducing it to a low heat as soon as you drop in the okra. This will allow the water inside them to evaporate without the vegetable burning.
After washing your lady’s fingers dry it well, either in the sun or with a cloth/paper towel.
Another trick to counter slime is when you are chopping the vegetable to keep wiping your entire knife blade on a newspaper or cloth otherwise the slime builds up and keeps passing from one vegetable slice to the next.
Also, when frying resist the urge to keep moving the vegetables around, this builds up the slime. Use a large flat pan allowing each slice to have its own space and contact with the heat. At the most you can toss the entire contents of the pan or agitate the pan.
I just found out that in the Carribean there are a number of okra soups which require slime…As adventurous as I am with food, I am reluctant to try slime soup.
South Indian Recipe: I add a 2 tsps of oil for about 250 gms of lady’s fingers. Use a wide frying pan.
Splutter 1/2 a tsp of mustard seeds in the heated oil. Allow them to splutter then add the sliced lady’s fingers. Mix just once so they all get coated in oil.
Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of chilli powder and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder. Mix again, just once. Now leave to cook on a low to medium heat and ensure each slice has contact with the pan/heat.
After about ten minutes the Lady’s fingers should be cooked and slime free.
This could be my favourite vegetable and I love eating this preparation of Lady’s fingers with that South Indian classic – curd rice. And ones own crop from the kitchen garden will taste so much better. Hopefully next time!