Fleshy and sweet summer okra cooked in a masala of onion, garlic and spices and coated in roasted chickpea flour. This okra dish is so delicious as a side with daal- rice or with soft warm rotis and a bowl of yogurt. I love such simple and light meals during summer. The addition of besan(chickpea flour), one of my favorite flours, makes it taste so earthly and spices like mustard, fennel & cumin complement the combination of fresh vegetable and nutty flour.
Zunka is a Maharastrian (Western Indian) dish which is basically chickpea flour cooked in a tempering of mustard and cumin seeds along with fresh chilies and powdered spices. It is like a slurry or can be dryish. It is usually served with bhakri(flatbread bread) and pickle for a meal. It is a super light dish during summers and quite flavorful like anything made with chickpea flour is.
Here, I added fresh bhindi to the spiced chickpea flour. I also addd fennel seeds since I love the flavor with okra. Okra isn't slimy at all once the dish finishes cooking, the dish is perfectly spiced and comes together very quickly. The is my version inspired by the iconic zunka dish, which is usually a slurry. I like this drier version with okra a lot. Here are a few things to be kept in mind while cooking okra and this dish. Keep these things in mind and your okra will never be slimy.
- Wash the okra at least 1-2 hours before beginning to cook and let air dry if possible. Quickly washing and wiping with paper or cloth table is okay but I recommend air drying. Do not cut okra until its completely dry else it will be super slimy.
- For this dish, cut the okra in longish pieces, don't cut very thin discs.
- Don't skimp on oil. Some vegetables like okra, eggplant etc cook better if the oil quantity is good. At the same time, besan(chickpea flour)also need extra oil for the right texture post cooking. Right quantity of oil also helps in reducing the slimy texture of okra since it dosent steam but stir fries well while cooking.
- Okra is a delicate vegetable and when fresh, it cooks quite fast. We don't need to cover it for a long time else it loses its color, get overcooked and the texture isn't right. Just cover for a few minutes in the beginning to get cooking started and then cook uncovered till its tender. Writing the method I follow in the recipe.
Bhindi Zunka /Besan Bhindi (Okra Cooked in Chickpea flour)
- 1 lb (400gms) okra
- ½ cup besan (chickpea flour)
- 5 tablespoon mustard oil or any cooking oil you use
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2-3 green or red chilies, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
- ¾ cup finely chopped onions
- 4 garlic cloves,finely chopped
- 2 teaspoon coriander powder
- Red chilli powder to taste
- Salt to taste
- 1-3 tablespoon water or as needed
- ½ teaspoon amchoor (dry mango powder)(or to taste)
- ½ teaspoon garam masala (or to taste)
- Wash and air-dry the okra. Trim the ends and cut each okra into maximun of 3 pieces. Set aside.
- Take a kadai or heavy pan with lid in which you want to cook and set it on stove. First, dry roast the chickpea flour on low heat stirring continously till you smell a nice aroma but it does get not browned a lot. Takes about 6-8 minutes. Keep an eye and stir continously. Once roasted, transfer to a plate or bowl and set aside.
- Add the mustard oil (or cooking oil) to the kadai and heat up till a bit smoky. Temper the oil with mustard, fennel and cumin seeds. As soon as they crackle, add the fresh chilies and saute in oil for 30 seconds.
- Next, on medium heat, add the onion and let the onions cook in oil till they are a nice shade of golden brown. Add the garlic next and saute for a minute till you smell a nice aroma.
- Add the coriander and red chili powder next and saute in warm oil for a minute or so.
- Add all the okra to the onion & spices now, sprinkle salt and mix well. Saute for 2-3 minutes with the masala. You will see that the okra will start to look deep green in color and little moist(its own juices if your okra is good quality and fresh). If you feel its not releasing its juices, add couple tablespoons of water, mix and set the stove to low medium and cover the pan with a lid.
- Let the okra cook for 5-7 minutes covered without opening the lid in between. Remove the lid and you will see that okra is much softer, let it cook for another 6-7 minutes without the lid till its soft but not falling apart. The okra will be browned and you wont see the slime. Once okra is cooked properly, its slimy texture goes away.
- Sprinke the besan a few tablespoons at a time and gently mix well. The besan will slowly absorb the mositure from okra and will appear sandy. Add all the besan and keep mixing. If you feel that the sabzi is looking dryish, add a tablespoon or so of water. I didnt need to add any extra water. Taste and adjust the salt.
- Finish the dish with amchoor and garam masala.Mix well and serve warm.