Sunday, August 4, 2013

Okra Buttermilk Curry / Bendekayi Majjigehuli

We learn many things every day of our lives. But the ones we learn by making a mistake is something we never forget. Cooking with okra is one such thing for me. I was about 12 years old and I was left in charge of cooking for the grand parents who, couldn't do much around the house. Even though I knew how to cook the usual stuff, I didn't know the finer details of how to handle different vegetables. I had planned on making okra sambhar and I added okra to the washed lentils and cooked it in the pressure cooker. Boy, was I surprised when I opened the lid of the pressure cooker. When I complained about why it is so slimy to my grand mother, she explained that okra needs to be cooked in tamarind water. Every time I pick okra to cook, I remember her.

I have made two variations to my regular buttermilk curry. I used toor dal instead of chana dal just for a change. My mother-in-law had made me use toor dal once to make this curry. I also took a suggestion of a reader who said she adds few corns of coriander seeds to grind the masala paste to intensify the coriander taste. Use whichever recipe suits your palate.

One Year Back - Peanut Butter Cookies
Two Years Back - Avocado Brioche, Roasted Banana Ice cream
Three Years Back - Deep fried cracker ( Nippattu )

Okra -  1 pound chopped into chunks(I used frozen already cut okra)
Split Pigeon pea lentil/ Toor dal - 2 TBSP
Salt - to taste
Tamarind - A big marble sized or 1/2 tsp of extract
Turmeric - two generous pinches
Green chillies - 7 -8 as per taste
Cilantro - 1/2 cup chopped
Coconut - 1/2 - 3/4 cup scraped
Cumin - 1 tsp
Coriander seeds - 8
Asafoetida /Hing - two generous pinches
Yogurt -  1 1/2 - 2 cups (depending on the thickness desired)

For tempering:
Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - few
Red chillies - 2 broken

Soak toor dal in water for about an hour. Take the soaked dal, coconut, green chillies, cilantro, turmeric, cumin, coriander seeds and asafoetida in a blender jar and blend adding water as needed. Make a nice paste and set aside. Soak tamarind in enough water to extract the juice from it. In a saucepan, take the okra and cover with tamarind water. Add more water just enough to cover the okra pieces and cook. When the okra is cooked, add the ground paste, salt and more water as needed to bring it to a thick chunky soup consistency. Don't add too much water since the yogurt addition will thin it more than what it is at this stage. Keep it stirring frequently to prevent sticking and burning. Let it boil for 5 minutes. Lower the flame to the lowest setting and add the yogurt slowly. Mix well and you can increase the heat after a minute or two but keep it to medium heat. When it comes to a slow simmer, turn off the heat. Check the salt and adjust if needed.

Heat oil in a small pan and when it is hot, add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add broken red chillies and curry leaves. When the chillies are toasted, turn off the heat and add it to the curry. Mix well. Serve with rice.
This post is written for weekend cooking post that I write with Srivalli  and  Vaishali. 

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  1. Very comforting and healthy curry. I love oats in any form. Your preparation looks very simple yet inviting.

  2. That is such a flavorful okra curry. Adding toor dal is very interesting.

  3. Going to try this for sure....any suggestions on substituting tamarind with?

    1. You could cook the okra in a little bit of oil till it is cooked and then use it in the recipe. This way, it won't get slimy but the taste will differ a bit. You could also try cooking okra in water mixed with lime juice. It just needs some acid to prevent the sliminess.

  4. This is such a comforting dish..I normally dry roast my okra to avoid the slimy thing..


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