Okra is also known as gumbo in the southern US states and ladies fingers, and bhindi tori in Urdu. It is also known as Abelmoschus esculenta (Abelmoschus meaning father of musk in Arabic). It is in the mallow family and related to hibiscus.
   When you cook okra you have to be careful not to cut the green pod so that it stays intact and doesn’t release the gummy substance inside it. To clean it you should cut off the tops and the bottom of the pods. It contains a lot of white seeds, and these can be roasted or dry fried, then ground and made into a coffee substitute which is said to be very much like the real thing and much closer to the taste of coffee than other substitutes such as dandelion roots.
   Okra originated in West Africa, possibly in Ethiopia, and was either taken to the US with African slaves, or introduced by the French in the 18th century. It is used in Creole dishes and is called gumbo, which is a derivative of the word nkrumo, perhaps. It is good with prawns and chicken and other meat too, as you will see if you try the recipe below.
   The gummy substance inside the pods thickens sauces naturally without the addition of flour or cornflour. However okra is not to everyone’s taste and you either like it or hate it. You can deep fry okra as well as adding it to soups and stews, and serve it as a side vegetable.
   Okra is packed with vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, C, a number of the B-complex vitamins, and vitamin K; the minerals include zinc, manganese, calcium, magnesium and iron. It also contains some of the essential amino acids. It is good to eat during pregnancy as it helps prevent neural deficiencies in the foetus. It has antioxidant properties and can help fight the free radicals which cause cancer. It also prevents constipation and cleans the colon, thus lessening the risk of colo-rectal cancer and piles. Okra has the best fibre content along with flax seeds and ispaghule (also called psyllium) or plantain. It helps regulate blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol.
   Try this recipe from the Indian subcontinent, okra with meat.

1 kg beef, cubed
½ kg okra
250 gr yoghurt
6 onions, chopped
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp ground coriander seeds
2 tsps turmeric
1 tsp ground cardamom seeds
salt to taste
oil for shallow and deep frying
4 glasses of water
fresh coriander leaves as optional garnish

Top and tail the okra as described above. Wash it thoroughly and dry it completely.
Heat the oil in a pan and fry 2 of the chopped onions until they are golden-brown. Add the chilli powder, salt, turmeric, coriander powder, and the two pastes (make garlic paste by grinding 10 cloves of garlic in a blender and 2 inches of peeled ginger root). Stir and fry for two minutes.
Add the meat and cook for 5-7 mins then add the remaining 4 shopped onions and 2 glasses of water.
Cook until the water has gone, then ad the yoghurt and cook for a further 5 mins.
Add two more glasses of water the garam masala and ground cardamoms.
Deep fry the okra for 3-5 mins. Add it to the meat.
Cover the pan and cook on a low heat for 10 mins.
Your delicious bhindi ghosht is now ready to serve with naan or roti (chapattis).
Garnish with fresh coriander leaves if you wish.
This has Taste and is a Treat.


  1. Okra has a lot of health benefits. It is good for constipation. It also normalizes the blood sugar and cholesterol level.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.