Gujarat looks quite inviting in the tourism ads starring Amitabh – very much the Indian tourist story – colourful choli clad women shyly peeping out from behind their veils, big moustached men, skinny children running amok, all amidst serene natural beauty and huge temples. It’s at the western tip of India, above Maharashtra. I’ve never been there. I’d like to but mainly for their food and their craft. Two things I never tire of. Gujarati food I read is predominantly vegetarian. I love the elaborate gujarati thalis that they serve in some restaurants here and they’re pretty neat but I am sure the real thing is even better. I made Bhindi sambhariya today for Gujarat.
Stuffed Bhindi is a thing of beauty. I love okra in all its avatars the simple unassuming vendakkai poriyal, vendakkai thokku, creamy ladies finger curries and now the stuffed bhindis. There are several versions of the stuffing and this gujarati sambhariya is one of them. These stuffed okra are super tasty with steamed rice and dal. But stuffing the okra is a time consuming task. Stuffing anything (except oneself) is time consuming. So be patient and gentle with them okra or you’ll break them. Try it when you have an extra half hour.
Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 20-30 mins
Okra/Ladies finger/Vendakkai – 1/2 kg
Grated coconut – 3 tbsp
Dhania/Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
Ginger – 1 inch piece
Green chillies – 2 chopped roughly
Turmeric – ¼ tsp
White sesame seeds – ½ tsp
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Garam masala – 1 tsp
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil – 3 tbsp
1. Wash okra well. Pat dry and chop off the tops and tails of the okra. Make a vertical slit through all the okra and set aside.
2. Grind together all ingredients other than okra and oil and make a thickish paste.
3. Stuff the paste into the vertical slits in the okra.
4. Heat a shallow pan. Add oil and when hot, place the stuffed okras in a single layer in the pan. If there is any stuffing left over, sprinkle it over the layered okra. Cover with a lid and cook on low till the okra are tender. In between, flip over the okra to evenly brown them on all sides. This may take 20-30 minutes on low heat. Once done, remove from heat. Serve hot with rice and dal.