Recipes: Fried Okra with Indian Spices and Hot Tomato Relish

Fried Okra with Indian Spices and Hot Tomato Relish

Andrea Reusing is an award-winning chef and a leader in the sustainable agriculture movement. Her latest book, Cooking in the Moment, is the culmination of a year’s seasonal cooking at Reusing’s home using local ingredients and the time management of a busy working mother. Here, the North Carolina cook gives us one of the seasonal recipes from her new book – a starter recipe for Okra – a Southern US vegetable at the height of it’s season in July.

Reusing says of the Hot Tomato Relish: “This keeps for several weeks in the fridge and is good with spiced basmati rice, grilled chicken or lamb, or a creamy corn stew.”

Fried Okra with Indian Spices and Hot Tomato Relish

Yield: Serves 4 as a small appetizer


  • 1 teaspoon Coriander seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon Fennel seeds
  • 1 Clove
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Vegetable oil
  • 1 large Egg
  • ¼ cup Buttermilk
  • 1 medium Serrano chile, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Chickpea flour
  • 2 tablespoons All-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pints (just under a pound) Okra, stems removed
  • Sprinkling Sea salt
  • Small pot Hot Tomato Relish

Cooking Directions

  1. In a small pan over medium heat, lightly toast the coriander, fennel, and clove until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Allow to cool completely; then grind and set aside.
  3. Toast the cumin seeds in the same fashion and add them to the ground spices.
  4. Fill a deep, heavy stockpot with about 3 inches of oil. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until a deep-fat thermometer reads 350°F.
  5. Beat the egg in a small bowl and whisk in the buttermilk and serrano chile.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine the chickpea flour, all-purpose flour, salt, pepper, and spice mixture.
  7. Cut the okra on a sharp diagonal into long ¼-inch-thick slices. Put the okra slices into the bowl with the flour mixture and combine, leaving a light dusting on each piece.
  8. Pour the egg mixture on top and mix with your hands, making sure to coat all surfaces.
  9. In batches, use a large slotted spoon to carefully lay loosely formed handfuls of 6 to 8 slices into the hot oil and cook for about 2 minutes, turning as necessary until the okra is golden brown and uniformly crisp.
  10. Drain on a clean brown paper bag, season with sea salt, and serve with the tomato relish.

Hot Tomato Relish

Yield: Makes 2 cups


  • 1 tablespoon Expeller-pressed vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon Brown mustard seeds
  • 3 Garlic cloves, slivered lengthwise
  • ½ teaspoon Cayenne
  • 1¼ teaspoons Ground turmeric
  • 5 Ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup Distilled white vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon Sugar

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a medium-size heavy nonreactive pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the mustard seeds and garlic, and cook until the garlic is turning light golden brown and the seeds are popping, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the cayenne and turmeric.
  4. Cook for 10 to 20 seconds, and then add the tomatoes, salt, vinegar, and sugar.
  5. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft and the relish has thickened slightly.
  6. Serve hot.

Cooking in the Moment will be released on 5th April 2011.

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