East Meets South: Indian Spiced Okra
Realizing that I'm a little behind in my reading, the September issue of Food & Wine magazine has a "new south" theme. Cover to cover, the magazine is a celebration of new and fun riffs on southern cuisine, like fried green tomato BLTs, squash blossoms stuffed with pimento ricotta (that's a way to elevate "pimena-cheese"), and a fresh take on the Sazerac cocktail using star anise-infused Applejack. The cover recipe, shrimp with saffron rice and fennel salad makes my toes tingle to think about.
We snacked on the magazine's Indian spiced okra under our big apple tree on one of the last cheery not-quite-fall afternoons, enjoying it with a bottle of very very local (less than 25 miles from home) Mark's Ridge 2007 Gewurtztraminer. The semi-dry, lychee scented wine was great with the Indian spiced okra, especially since I did my own little experiment and it ended up on the rather extreme side of the spicy scale. The wine's sweetness cooled, lifted and enchanted the warm, deep Indian spices.
Follow this link to the Skillet-Roasted Spiced Okra recipe from the magazine. In my version all the ground spices called for in the recipe were replaced with whole spices, including adding two tiny dried chiles instead of the hot paprika. I toasted all the spices to coax their frangrance and then ground them in my spice grinder before sprinkling them over the tender-crisp okra.
Okra seems to divide people into two camps; the can't-stand-it-get-it-out-of-here camp or the why-can't-I-ever-get any-okra-around-here camp. There don't seem to be a lot of in-betweeners on the topic. If you are one of those poor folks who only equate okra with slime, please give this skillet-roasting technique a try. Spicy, crispy and slimelessly bright, green and fresh is what this dish is all about.