Bendekayi Gojju/ Spiced Okra

Okra I say is my favorite food..When i say 'food' I mean vegetables, fruits, desserts (except chocolate; it is in a league of its own) et al. Bendekai aka Okra in America is commonly called Lady's finger! I thought I knew my bit on the American way of naming things, Okra, Eggplant, Cookies, Trucks, Closet as kid- Thanks to the column in The Hindu  -"Know your English".Well imagine my shock when i was told that lady finger in America meant a sort of cracker!

Nevertheless, this curry has been a favorite since i was a kid. I remember my maternal grandmother's absolutely yummy bendekai gojju.. Ammaji as I call her used to make absolutely heavenly Bendekai Gojju. Most of time I did sneak into her kitchen right after school and demand her for something. She always had something for me and my sister neatly tucked up on the upper selves lest the cat-bandit tried to sample it. Most of the time it would be some fruit, may be some sweet or sometimes when my grand father was in the mood it would be homemade icy-ice cream. Of course the ice cream would come out of the refrigerator.
But on the days she made Bendekai Gojju, it would be just Bendekai Gojju. My rumbling tummy and my twitching nose could make out from miles that it felt like Bendekai Gojju. I then used to demand for just the gojju,in a big bowl no rice nothing, just the gojju/ curry and end up licking the bowl in the alley way that lead to the Backyard (licking obviously invited my grandmother's wrath ! She is one of those very orthodox types). Finally a couple of years back i sat with my grandmother and noted down all her recipes. I am sure i missed out a lot of them given that her recipe index is oral!!Here is the yummy bendekai gojju i covet so much.

Bendekai Gojju
We will need,

Okra(lady's finger) 3/4 lb
coconut grated 1 cup
onion 1 small
jaggery (or brown sugar) about 11/2tablespoon (or a piece of jaggery the size of a lime)
tamarind extract 1/2 tablespoon
Sambar Powder (Huli pudi) 2 tablespoons
corriander( cilantro)
curry leaves 5-6
mustard 1/2 teaspoon
Hing 1 big pinch
Ghee /Clarified butter 2 tbsp

  • Heat a thick bottomed pan to high. Drop the chopped okra. Sear it till the okra looses its stickiness and becomes a little charred. Do not turn it often. The undisturbed it sits the faster it chars. Alternately grease some butter on a cookie sheet, toss the chopped Okras and pop it under the broiler till it is no longer slimy.
  • Chop onions and toast it in a pan till it becomes slightly brown. Set it aside to cool. Combine coconut, the toasted onion, jaggery, Sambar powder, tamarind and cilantro in a blender and grind it into a smooth paste.
  • Heat ghee/vegetable oil in a thick bottomed pot. Add the mustard, curry leaves and hing. 
  • Once it stops spluttering add the ground masala. 
  • Cook till fragrant (about 15 minutes, it is always better to cook it longer than leaving it raw if you are not sure) Gently fold the okra, adjust salt and serve it with steaming rice.


Anonymous said...

I love love love bendekai gojju.

I have refered back to your post on my blog. Just thought I would let you know.

- Navya

Anonymous said...

I have question, can we add just the tamarind while grinding instead of adding extract.