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Indian Okra and Tomatoes

serves 2–3 people


  • ½ cup light vegetable oil
  • 1 lb okra, trimmed and left whole
  • 3 cups finely chopped onion
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground fennel
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2–3 portions Basmati rice


  1. Heat ¼ cup of the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the okra in a single layer and fry without stirring for 1 minute. Continue cooking for 3 or 4 minutes more, tossing and turning the okra until it is lightly browned. Remove the okra from the pan and set aside.
  2. Measure out the spices and place them right next to the stove in separate piles. Add the remaining ¼ cup of oil to the same pan along with the onion. Cook the onion until light golden (~5 minutes). Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns caramel brown (8–10 minutes).
  3. Add the cumin, coriander, fennel, cayenne pepper, and turmeric. Stir for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring until mixture thickens (~3 minutes). Add the fried okra, salt, and 1 cup hot water. Stir to mix and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook until the okra is cooked (~20 minutes) and the sauce is thick. Stir in the fresh cilantro and serve over rice (cook rice according to package directions).