Five years ago, when the wedding bells started ringing for me, while I got busy searching for matching accessories for the assortment of saaris I had acquired, mom was fretting over her daughter’s ineptness in cooking up anything palatable. She was particularly concerned about my fear of bhindi – all slimy and smelly when cut up, but transformed to a crunchy and yummy veggie by her. The logic – I was getting wedded in the summer time when bhindi is available in abundance. It was a strong candidate for my “cook-for-the-first-time-in-the-in-laws-kitchen” ritual!
So below is a the recipe of my mom’s bhindi ki sabji – the only cooking that I was formally coached for by my mom.
Bhindi(s) – 250 gms (soft, green, fresh)
Oil – 1.5 tbsp
Haldi/ Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Jeera/ Cumin – 1 tsp
Ajwain/ Carom seeds – 1 tsp
Dhania powder / Dried coriander seeds powder – 2 tbsp (you may not need all of it)
Red chilli powder – half tsp
Garam masala/ kitchen king masala – half tsp
Salt – as per taste
1. Clean the Bhindi by wiping each with a damp cloth. We do this as we do not want the bhindi to get wet. Wiping not only cleans the bhindi, but also dries it up. While doing this, you may also want to discard the thick and hard bhindi(s), they are spoilsports.
2. Cut off the head and tail-end and slit the bhindi lengthwise. Cut each of the pieces into half, we want the bhindi pieces to be 2-ish inches long.
3. Heat oil in a wok/ kadhai. It is better if you use a non-stick pan with a flat base. I use Prestige frying pan.
4. Add in jeera and ajwain and let them crackle and sizzle for a minute. Add haldi.
5. Put in the bhindi pieces and mix gently, so that all the bhindi pieces are covered evenly with the oil mixture.
6. Let these cook on a sim flame. Don’t cover the bhindi.
7. As the bhindi gets cooked, it will turn pale and shiny. Move around the bhindi pieces gently as it cooks.
8. After 8 to 10 minutes of cooking, add salt. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of dhania powder liberally and mix.
9. After another 5 minutes, check for the bhindi to be cooked, by taking out a piece. You can sprinkle the garam masala, red chili powder and stop cooking now. If you want your bhindi to be crispy, continue to cook for another five minutes.
10. Serve as a side with roti and daal. This is also ideal to pack in the office lunch box or for train travel.
Tips to rescue the bhindi from slime –
1. Never wash the bhindi. Even if you do, wipe it dry.
2. Try using a non-stick flat base pan – we want the spread out the bhindi pieces, lest they stick to each other.
3. Dont assault your bhindi while cooking. It needs TLC, not a power lifter’s arm.
4. Never think of covering the bhindi while cooking, even if you think it is taking ages to cook. In fact, don’t put a cover on the pan even after the sabji is cooked, the condensed steam from the cover will drip right in the pan.
5. If you notice the slime, don’t panic. The dhania powder will take care of it. Keep adding dhania powder till you see each piece thinly coated. For best results, use home made, rough textured dhania powder.
6. Oil also plays a role in keeping the pieces apart. Don’t go the ‘diet’ way on this one.