Saturday, June 19, 2010
This week's theme at IHCC is Dining with Dad. I searched for a recipe that would remind me of Dad and one that he would enjoy.
My Dad is a do-it-yourself kinda guy. He rarely has dinner out and prefers to cook his own meals. I have to admit my step mother has not one problem with handing her kitchen over to Dad. He prefers simple, southern country cooking and he is an awesome cook!
I chose Mark Bittman's Okra Salad for this week's theme. When I was young Dad always planted a huge garden. I remember one year the garden consumed nearly all of our Atlanta suburban back yard! I also remember being handed a shovel to help unload the "fertilizer" that he would procure from the local stables. Dad grew tomatoes, peppers, squash,beans, onions,corn and okra. I am sure there were other odds and ends growing in his garden. I really remember the okra, because he grew so much of it and for many years I did not care for okra cooked any way other than fried.
The recipe is very easy and light on the wallet as well. I did not have access to the Chaat Masala. I wanted to make my own, and here in the mountains of Northwest Georgia, the ingredients just are not available. Alas, I made my own mixture with what I had and it tasted great.
I used fresh ground cumin, black pepper, salt, and cayenne.
The recipe does not call for flouring the okra. However, I am a southern girl and frying okra naked just isn't right. So I added some of the spice mixture I made to a ziploc bag, threw in some flour,the sliced okra and shook and coated the okra before frying. It was not a crusty okra but I believe the flour added some depth and more crunch. After I removed the okra from the skillet, I would sprinkle each batch with the spice mixture. I chose not to use cilantro. I love it. However, my sons do not enjoy it's yumminess.
I then mixed the cooled okra with the tomatoes, red onion and ended with the juice of a lemon. Even though the okra was fried, it was light in taste and is truly a salad.
Now I wonder how the okra would handle being baked or roasted until its dark and crispy. I am going to experiment with that as well and will also try it with curry.
I am also sending this dish in to The Side dish showdown.
My next trip to the capital, "big city", I hope to find the Chaat Masala, or the ingredients to make my own.
**When frying the okra sliced this way, beware: The seeds may pop out of the skillet. Throw in a handful at a time and cook in batches. No need to turn the okra or stir it.
Okra Salad (Adapted from Mark Bittman)
Neutral oil, like corn or canola, for frying
1 pound okra, stemmed and julienned lengthwise
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
2 small or 1 medium tomato, cored, seeded, and julienne sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
½ lemon, or more as needed
1½ teaspoons Chaat Masala, store bought or homemade, or more to taste
½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1. Heat at least 2 inches oil to 350°F (you can check this with a deep-fry or instant-read thermometer) in a countertop deep fryer or in a heavy pot on the stove.
2. Fry the julienned okra in batches small enough not to crowd your pan or fryer and make sure to let the oil return to temperature (350°F) between batches. Fry it until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes—the seeds will swell and it will be deeply colored at the edges—then transfer to drain on paper towels.
3. Toss the okra together with the onion, tomato, and cilantro, squeeze the lemon juice over all, and season to taste with Chaat Masala and salt.