You know what is the best thing about having a food blog? You leave your comfort zone and try stuff that you don’t like much. Change by itself is difficult and when it involves food – the only thing that is worth living for, it is extraordinarily difficult. Having this food blog has helped me shed my inhibitions and try stuff that I once hated. Okra or Lady’s Finger is one such ingredient. I used to make a big fuss at home when mom cooked it, especially if it was put into sambar or Pulusu. But then life happens and you grow up, liking food that you have never liked before and kick yourself for giving your mom a tough time. That’s me now.
Puli Kuzhambu is one of the ways I have come to enjoy Okra/Vendakkai. For some unexplainable reason, this vegetable goes really well with the tangy spicy broth. Puli Kuzhambu is usually made with fresh tamarind extract cooked with an assortment of spices, flavored heavily with curry leaves. This gravy goes really well with hot rice and even some Indian bread, if you love tangy stuff. Do check the notes section for some tips on handling this not so easy vegetable – Okra/Vendakkai.
To make Vendakkai Puli Kuzhambu | Spicy Tangy Okra Gravy
What I used –
- Lady’s Finger/Okra, 10-12 tender ones
- Onion, 1 large
- Garlic Pods, 8-10
- Gingely Oil/Sesame Oil, 2 tbsp
- Dried Red Chillies, 1 or 2
- Mustard Seeds, ¾ tsp
- Dried Fenugreek Seeds, ¾ tsp
- Curry Leaves, a few
- Sambar Powder, 2 tbsp
- Coriander Powder, 1 tbsp
- Turmeric Powder, ½ tsp
- Fresh Tamarind, small lemon sized
- Salt, as required
- Water, as required
Prep Work –
1. Wash and dry the lady’s fingers/Okra. Cut into inch long pieces. Chop onions, peel off & chop garlic pods. Set aside.
2. Boil fresh tamarind in ½ cup of water, let it cool down. Squeeze well and extract tamarind juice. Set aside.
How I made –
1. In a thick bottomed pan, heat gingely/sesame oil. Add dried red chillies cut in halves, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Let them splutter. Add peeled/chopped garlic pods and fry for 20 secs. Add curry leaves and fry for 5 secs. Add finely chopped onions and fry until translucent.
2. Add chopped lady’s finger/Okra. Add salt required for the vegetable and stir fry on a low flame for 5-6 mins until it is half cooked. Add turmeric powder, sambar powder, coriander powder. Stir fry for 4-5 mins on low flame until the raw smell of the masala powders is gone.
3. Add tamarind extract with ½ cup of extra water. Mix well. Check for salt and spiciness. Boil it on low flame for 10-15 mins until all the spices are well absorbed by the vegetable. If required add some water and boil for 4-5 mins.
4. Serve hot with rice with a side of fryums.
- Okra/Lady’s Finger can be a bit tricky to cool, as it can turn sticky. The best thing to do is, wash and pat it completely dry and stir fry. That way, it doesn’t turn much sticky.
- Add salt on the vegetable to enable fast cooking.
- If you don’t have sambar powder, replace it with 2 tsp of red chilli powder and 1 tsp of cumin powder.
- Instead of using fresh tamarind, can use tamarind pulp readily available.
- Garlic is optional but adds to the flavor of the gravy.