It’s 100% summer here in the Lowcountry and that means a bounty of new ingredients and flavors to experiment with. As a nice Jewish girl from the north, cooking things like okra isn’t inherently natural to me, but I fell in love with the unique texture and flavor in college and since it’s so fresh locally, it’s hard to pass up at a roadside stand or farmer’s market. If you haven’t tried it, it almost has a green bean type flavor. However, what most people are put off by is the texture– it can be ‘slimy’ due to the mucilage that’s secreted upon slicing into it. Cooking it quickly at a high temperature combats this, but I like it low and slow — it’s a natural thickener and adds great body to this 1-pot-wonder. The okra starts to break down and melt in your mouth, and the flavors are just divine– a little bit of the south mixed with some Indian spices. Try this for a quick and easy weeknight dinner – it works well over rice/quinoa but also stands alone as a great stew.
Curried Okra and Sweet Potatoes
1 medium onion, diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
About 30 pieces of okra
2 cloves garlic
Garam Masala (if you don’t have it, substitute equal parts nutmeg and cinnamon)
Sautee garlic and onions in olive oil in a wide, high-walled skillet for just about 3-4 minutes until they start to soften. Add in 2 teaspoons of curry powder and smoked paprika, combining until the onions take on an orangey-sunset glaze. Cook the spices down another minute or two and add in ½ tsp of garam masala and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the sweet potatoes and coat with the spices. Add in about ½ to ¾ of a box of vegetable stock- as much needed until the stock is about ½ inch higher than the potatoes- then drop in the okra. Briefly stir together then simmer (covered) for about 20 minutes. Check the seasoning and adjust as needed; add additional vegetable stock or water if the liquids have gotten low. Cook until the potatoes are soft.