Bendakaya Pulusu is okra/ bhindi cooked in a spicy tamarind stew or gravy. It’s spicy, hot, tangy and delicious! This Andhra style bhindi pulusu is healthy, comforting and makes for a hearty meal, served with rice, ghee and plain dal. Bendakaya is the Telugu word for Okra. In India it is also known as ladies finger or bhindi.
Pulusu is a traditional stew, that is a an everyday dish made in Telugu speaking homes. A pulusu can be made with many different kinds of vegetables like potatoes, bottle gourd, ridge gourd, bitter gourd, drumsticks and even with eggs & chicken.
Unlike the other curried dishes, a pulusu is not cooked with plenty of spices. So it retains the original flavor of the veggies used in the preparation.
Making pulusu is very easy and uses only pantry staples like onions, tomatoes, curry leaves, tempering spices, tamarind, jaggery and sometimes coriander powder. Usually ingredients like garam masala, ginger garlic paste and tomatoes are not used.
Bendakaya pulusu is the only pulusu variety I make with a small amount of tomatoes. You may skip them if you don’t prefer.
This recipe calls for very little coriander powder and a good red chili powder that yields this bright color. I have not used jaggery in this pulusu but if you like you can use.
I like to use potatoes for most of my Andhra pulusu recipes, since they add taste and meal time is smoother with my kids. Just like most kids, my Kids too love potatoes. You can skip, if you don’t like them.
How to Make Bendakaya Pulusu (stepwise photos)
1. Rinse 2 tablespoons tamarind and soak it in ½ cup hot water. When it is soft, squeeze up and strain the juice, discard the pulp.
2. Wash okra under running water. Wipe dry with a clean kitchen cloth or tissue.
3. Chop okra to 1 inch sized pieces. I use a kitchen tissue in between to wipe off the sticky part from the knife.
4. Next chop onions and tomatoes. Set aside.
Make Bendakaya Pulusu
5. Heat a pan with oil, add mustard and methi seeds, allow them to splutter, add curry leaves.Fry till they turn crisp
6. Add onions and green chilies. I did not use green chilies.
7. Fry till the onions turn pink. We don’t have to fry them golden.
8. Add tomatoes, sprinkle salt and turmeric. Fry till the tomatoes turn soft and should have blended of with onions. This step is important for the pulusu to taste good.
9. Transfer potatoes and okra. Fry on high flame for 2 to 3 minutes.
10. Add red chili powder, coriander powder and a little more of the salt. we have already added salt with tomatoes, so don’t use too much. Mix and fry for another 2 minutes for the raw smell from red chili powder to vanish.
11.Pour the tamarind juice that we extracted evenly. Add jaggery as well. I dissolve the jaggery along with tamarind and filter. Stir well.
12. Cover and cook on a low flame for about 3 to 4 minutes.
13. Pour 1 ½ to 2 cups water and cook till the okra is soft cooked. Pulusu cooked on a low flame tastes the best. So if you have time, once it comes to a boil, simmer for a long time till the okra is soft cooked.
Bendakaya pulusu is ready. It can be served with plain pappu or mudda pappu, ghee and rice.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 250 grams bendakayalu (okra, ladies finger)
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- Pinch methi seeds (fenugreek seeds)
- 2 large onions chopped
- 1 green chili slit (optional)
- 2 small tomatoes or 1 large tomato (optional)
- 2 potatoes cubed (optional)
- 2 tbsp Tamarind as needed (about a lemon sized ball)
- ⅛ tsp turmeric
- Salt as needed
- ½ to 1 tsp coriander powder
- ¼ to ½ tsp red chili powder
- 1 to 2 tbsp jaggery (optional)
- Handful Coriander leaves with tender stalks
- 2 tbsp Oil or as needed
- Rinse and soak tamarind in ½ cup hot water. Once cool, squeeze up and filter to remove the pulp.
- Chop onions set aside.
- Rinse ladies finger under running water. Wipe them dry with a clean kitchen cloth.
- Chop them to 1 inch sized pieces. You can use a kitchen tissue in between to wipe off the sticky part from the knife.
- Chop tomatoes and set aside.
How to Make Bendakaya Pulusu
- Heat a pan with oil, add mustard and menthulu. When they begin to crackle, add curry leaves and fry till they turn crisp.
- Add onions and green chilies. You can also skip green chilies.
- Fry till the onions turn transparent. You don’t need to fry till golden.
- Add tomatoes, turmeric and salt. Fry till the tomatoes turn completely mushy. This is very important otherwise the pulusu doesn’t taste good.
- Transfer ladies finger and potatoes. Then fry on high for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add red chili powder, coriander powder and a little more of the salt.
- Mix and fry for another 2 minutes
- Pour the tamarind water and then add jaggery. You can also dissolve the jaggery along with tamarind and fliter both to the pot. Mix well
- Cover and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on a low flame or heat.
- Pour 1 ½ to 2 cups water and cook on a low flame till the ladies finger is cooked well soft and tender. If it is too runny, evaporate the excess water by cooking further without a lid.
- Taste the pulusu and add more salt, tamarind water and jaggery if needed. It should typically have different tastes like sweet, sour and hot.
- Serve bendakaya pulusu with rice and plain pappu or mudda pappu.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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