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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ladies finger! Hmmn..Okra for you, Bhindi for me…

One of the things that I missed the most on my dining table in Spain was 'Bhindis'. This veggie was available only on certain days and that too at Indian Super-market which was far away from my home. These were imported from London and the stock would finish on the day it arrived. Since we lived in the rural regions of Tenerife, (at Icod de Los Vinos) going to Indian Super-market at Puertos de la Cruz was a weekly event, if we were lucky, then we would be able to grab just a kilo of it. We counted (4-bhindis-per-person) and cooked, the rest we stored in the freezer

I wished somebody would locally plant this vegetable so that it was readily available at all times. 
 Since we lived in rural areas, our clients were mainly tourists or farmers, who would visit our shop to buy some electronics from our store. The local natives of the place were very friendly with us and sometimes sold us veggies and fruits that they grew in their farm. One day, I asked them to bring Bhindi and he looked surprised. He had never seen it. I showed him and he looked at it curiously. I asked him to plant it in his farm, but Bhindis need warm climate so he was not sure if he would be successful. Nevertheless, he did plant for me in his warm nursery and brought a big basket full of bhindis for me. But it was just an experiment for him and since Spanish don’t have this veggie on their dinner table, it was not profitable for him. I enjoyed this veggie till his passion lasted and then back to Indian supermarket, once in a while........
Believed to be originated in African regions, it is enjoyed in stews in most parts of the world. In Africa, the bhindis are normally short, thick and quite hard, they are grated and put into chicken and mutton dishes to make stew or thick gravy.
During one of the chats on BlackBerry, my cousin sent me the picture of Bhindi that grows in his garden in Texas. They were quite long, some of them longer than spoons, and they weighed heavy, bending the branch. He said that it was quite tasteless and people just chew and then throw it away.They are mainly used for medicinal purpose.
Bhindis are chopped and soaked in water overnight and drinking its solution early in the morning is good for health, it reduces cholesterol level, blood pressure and it also helps to stabilize the blood sugar by curbing the rate at which sugar is absorbed from intestinal tract. (and Oh..I tried drinking this Bhindi solution too but yucks! I could not continue this slimy stuff, I puked..sorry!)

My cousin in Malaysia says her maid uses bhindi for stuffing fish, it is a part of young ‘tau foo’ cuisine whereby it is stuffed with fish paste and boiled with a selection of vegetables and tofu, interesting recipe I must say, and sometimes they use pork too...
The few years while we lived in Surinam, mom grew many vegetables in her kitchen garden. The soil was very fertile and the weather was warm. We had Bhindis, tomatoes, coriander leaves and also chillie and avocado trees. While she cooked I would go downstairs and pluck out bhindis, tomatoes and chillies, just enough for the cooking, during those days I didn't know how to make Gaucomali, so we just cut avocado and spread it with bread like butter with just salt and pepper (it was so delicious that I can still remember the taste).

In India, Bhindis are served at every home and everybody has their own unique style..

There are so many different ways that one can cook this vegetable that every time I buy it I am set thinking. There is finely chopped deep fried bhindis, stuffed bhindis, bhindi potatoes in green masala or in onion masala or just dumped in Sindhi curry.

In some restaurant they also serve thinly sliced crispy bhindi (have you tried those?, yum..!!)

Even if you simply deep fry it and add dry masalas, it makes a nice accompaniment with dhal and rice. You could add dry powder like coriander powder, mango powder, lots of red chillies powder, jeera powder and coriander leaves.(cough! cough!

My favorite recipe is Bhindi with potatoes. Why? because its easiest to cook......and its quickie like Masterchef's fifteen minutes pressure
I deep fry chopped potatoes and Bindhis till tender

Make an onion masala separately by cooking onion, tomatoes, garlic, green chillies, turmeric powder and coriander leaves.(dump them in the pan and let the low flame do its work)
Mix the fried bhindi and potatoes to the onion masala and cook on slow flame for five minutes.

Lunch is ready..... I have it with chappatis and chopped cucumber….. always tastes good and I love it.
 BTW did you know that the world's most beautiful women, Cleopatra of Egypt and Yang Guifei of China loved to eat Bhinids ??

Mirror, Mirror on the wall........

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