Editor’s note: Welcome back to Dinner Tonight, a column that we’ve revived in response to the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has compelled people the world over to confine themselves to their homes, including our recipe developers. Each column will feature a recipe that one of our recipe developers has made for their own dinner. Unlike the other recipes on the site, these recipes won’t have gone through the rigorous testing we apply to our usual recipes, and they will often lean heavily on pantry staples.
One of the first things I bought when it became clear we’d have to isolate at home was a couple of bags of frozen okra, and I don’t really know why.
I like okra a lot, sure, but of the many foods that seemed reasonable to stock up on, like beans and pasta and rice—oh god, I didn’t buy enough rice—frozen okra doesn’t seem like it would be high on the list of any but the most rabid okra-lover.
Anyway, those bags of frozen okra ended up taking up some prime freezer real estate, which meant (some of) the okra had to go, so here’s what I made with it.
This is how I usually prepare the frozen okra I buy, which comes as little whole pods (as opposed to pre-sliced). There are fewer seeds, which is kind of sad, but, on the other hand, I’ve found I prefer cooking the whole mini okra than cut-up mature okra, since the whole pods don’t release that mucilaginous stuff—which, don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of in certain contexts but not all the time.
That being said, frozen cut okra would work here, too, as would any frozen vegetables. This is basically just a flavorful sauce in which any kind of vegetable could be cooked to good effect. The only thing to keep in mind is that the vegetables, whatever they are, are best when on the sweeter side, as that sweetness is really nice when paired with the heat from the chili, the spices, and the acidity of the tomatoes. What that means is sweet green beans would work well while a canned or dried bean might be too starchy and not sweet enough for this particular preparation.
The spice mixture I use consists of spices that many, many people might have on hand at any given time, given how ubiquitous coriander and cumin are in a number of different cuisines. If you don’t have the cardamom, that’s fine—skip it.
For the tomato in the recipe, you should feel free to take advantage of whatever you have: You can use homemade tomato sauce, pizza sauce, or the jarred stuff, but you can also use a tomato purée (like passatta or just some canned whole tomatoes you’ve blitzed in a blender).
My wife and I ate this okra wrapped in frozen store-bought parathas since I was feeling lazy, but you can make your own parathas, wrap the okra in a pita, or even wrap it in a tortilla (or add it to a quesadilla!). It’s also quite good over rice, especially if you have some achaar, or Indian pickles, in your fridge, although something acidic and pickle-y of almost any kind would be good with it, too.