Healthy Indian food is not difficult to prepare. In desperation I taught myself to cook because I did not want to get sick and wither away from culture shock. For example, I first learned to sauté cumin seeds, onions, garlic, ginger and green chili in hot oil and add turmeric, cumin and coriander powder in the right proportions until I became adventurous enough to try everything in the repertoire of our world-famous Indian cuisine. But most important of all, I discovered the fantastic health benefits of spices, herbs and foods that Mother Nature gave us.
For centuries these treasures of nature have helped people to stay healthy, handle stress better, attain good health and a balanced and positive outlook on life. These formulas have changed little today. We can endeavor to stay healthy by eating the right foods, improving ourselves and our circumstances, respecting others and teaching tolerance, sharing and protecting our culture and heritage.
Some curry facts:
- All the spices and herbs utilized in curry have enormous health benefits
- Magic of curry is in the blending and sautéing of spices (masala)
- Legume and bean dishes are always seasoned with asafoetida, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, onion, and turmeric to reduce gas and make food light to digest
- Vegetables always need coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, onion, green chili, and turmeric
- Certain spices such as bay leaf, black pepper, cardamom, chili pepper, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, onion, and turmeric work well together for meat and vegetable curries.
- Simple tools and utensils are used
- Many of these spices are available at your local grocery store
- Being on friendlier terms with our stomachs serves us well
Sautéed Curried Okra (Bhindi Masala)
3 pounds fresh okra
¼ cup corn oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 large onion, peeled and chopped fine
8 medium cloves garlic, peeled and sliced fine
¾-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped fine
2 fresh green chilies, chopped fine
2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 medium tomato, chopped fine (optional)
Salt to taste
Wash and drain the okra. Cut the ends and discard. Slice the okra into ½-inch pieces.
Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until they change color to a darker shade.
Add the onion, garlic, ginger, green chili, and curry leaves, and sauté for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown.
Add the turmeric, coriander, and cumin, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes.
Add the okra, tomato, and salt, and mix for 1-2 minutes.
Cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the ingredients from sticking, until okra is tender and golden brown.
Serve hot with rice, curry of your choice, legumes, Indian salad, and sweet mint chutney.
Check out my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.