Bhindi masala recipe – A simple North Indian bhindi masala that is great on flavors, tastes delicious & is healthy. Bhindi masala is a healthy dish made with okra, whole and ground spices, onions & tomatoes. This semi dry curry made goes very well as a side with rice or roti. It is mildly spicy, hot & full of flavors that comes from the pan fried bhindi and garam masala.
This post shows you how easy it is to cook okra perfectly without getting slimy.
About bhindi masala
Bhindi’ is a Hindi term for ‘Okra’ & ‘masala’ is an Indian curry base made with onions, tomatoes, spices and herbs. So ‘Bhindi masala’ means okra cooked in a spicy onion tomato masala.
Made with everyday ingredients, this simple bhindi masala is extremely easy to cook. It is a common everyday side dish made in many Indian households. Since okra is available all-round the year I make this pretty often for a meal.
Dal fry, dal tadka, okra masala, soft rotis and some plain rice makes for a healthy, delicious and simple meal in my home.
This bhindi masala also goes well in a school / office lunch box with some rotis. It’s a kids’ approved recipe and am sure they will enjoy it even on a rotation basis. For a change sometimes I also add boiled potatoes. I have the more details in the tips section below.
Okra is a veggie with lots of nutritional values so it is widely used in the Indian cuisine. Dahi bhindi, kurkuri bhindi & bharwa bhindi are some popular North Indian dishes. In South India, it is added to sambar, curries, stew and also stir fried with coconut.
Cook okra the right way
Okra has a naturally occurring slimy substance known as mucilage. It is made up of protein, carbohydrates & soluble fiber that makes this vegetable a healthy one. This slimy substance can actually ruin any dish if okra is not prepared and cooked properly.
As with any other okra dish, this bhindi masala has to be cooked the right way to avoid gooey, sticky and slimy texture in the dish. So how do we do that?
The first step is to wipe dry the whole okra very well so it has no traces of moisture or water on it. Then we chop to moderately sized pieces. Next simply stir fry the chopped veggie in oil until the sticky substance breaks down and vanishes.
Once this essential step is followed right, you have bhindi that has almost no slime in it. It is at this stage the veggie is to added to a flavorful onion tomato masala and simmered so it absorbs all of the flavors.
Also avoid adding salt to the okra until the slime has gone completely & it has cooked through. In this recipe we add it to the onion tomato masala and not to the bhindi.
So bhindi masala is cooked much the same way like any other veggie except for sautéing the bhindi first.
How to make bhindi masala (stepwise photos)
1. Rinse 250 grams okra/ bhindi well under running water. I usually sprinkle some salt and vinegar, rest for 15 mins. Then rub and rinse them well under running water.
2. Wipe them dry with a clean cloth or kitchen tissues. There should be no traces of moisture on the bhindi. Any moisture is going to make the veggie slimly while cooking. Chop off both the ends. Chop the bhindi to ¾ inch pieces. Do not chop them too thin as they tend to turn slimy after adding to the pan.
If you have an air fryer, you can skip this sautéing section and air fry the okra. Check the pro tips section below.
3. Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy bottom pan.
4. Add chopped bhindi and saute them well for 5 to 7 mins on a medium heat. Keep stirring often to fry them uniformly. While you fry the bhindi –
- chop 2 medium onions (1 cup chopped)
- chop 1 green chilli
- puree or chop 2 medium tomatoes (1 cup chopped or pureed)
- Make a fine paste of half inch ginger & 2 garlic cloves. Or ¾ tablespoon fine chopped.
5. Bhindi don’t get cooked completely after sauteing but the sticky substance will be gone. They will be crunchy at this stage.
6. Transfer them to a plate.
Making onion tomato masala
7. Add another 1 to 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil turns hot, add half teaspoon cumin seeds.
8. When they begin to splutter, add 1 cup chopped onions and 1 green chili. You may skip the green chili if you have kids at home.
9. Saute the onions until golden brown. Add ¾ tablespoon ginger garlic paste. Saute until the ginger garlic smells good. This just takes about 1 minute.
10. Add 1 cup chopped tomatoes or puree and ½ teaspoon salt.
11. Saute well until the tomatoes turn completely mushy.
- Add ½ to 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ¾ teaspoon of coriander powder (optional).
- I have used this punjabi garam masala. Make use of a good flavorful garam masala.
12. Saute this masala well until it becomes thick, comes together and smells good. Pour 6 tablespoons water (little less than half cup) and mix well. Cook this masala until it turns thick. It is very important to cook this onion tomato masala with water.
13. Take ½ teaspoon kasuri methi in your palm. Crush it well in between your palms. Add it here.
Cooking bhindi masala
14. Add fried bhindi/ ladies finger. (You can also add some cubed boiled potatoes at this stage if you like.)
15. Mix everything well. Cover and cook on a low to medium heat until the bhindi turns tender. This step also helps to bring out the aroma of the veggie.
18. We prefer the semi dry curry so I saute for another 2 to 3 mins to dry up excess moisture. Do not overcook as it makes the okra soggy.
Serve bhindi masala with plain rice, ghee or roti.
Benefits of bhindi
- Bhindi is a fiber rich vegetable that helps in digestion, prevents constipation & stomach problems.
- It is a good source of vitamin B, C, K, potassium & calcium. So helps in the overall health.
- Bhindi is also a rich source of antioxidants so helps in fighting the free radicals.
- It is a good source of folate (vitamin b) so it is very good for pregnant women.
- This low calorie veggie is nutrient dense keeps you full for longer. So it is great for those trying to manage their weight.
- Helps in reducing cholesterol & stress, helps to manage diabetes.
Here are some tips for the novice cooks on okra.
- Always choose tender and young bhindi as they get cooked faster, have lesser slime and taste good.
- Always wash and wipe them dry before chopping. While chopping, wipe off the sticky residue on the knife to a disposable tissue.
- Do not chop them very small as they turn more sticky while cooking.
- Do not skimp on the oil used in any bhindi recipe. Oil helps to get rid of the sticky substance from the veggie.
- One to two tbsp of lemon juice can be sprinkled on the bhindi after sautéing in the oil for a minute. This reduces the sticky substance but makes the dish sour. So more spice powders will be needed.
- You can also add some boiled potatoes to make this bhindi masala. Just cube the boiled potatoes and add them to the onion tomato masala along with fried bhindi. Cover and simmer for a while for the veggies to absorb the flavors.
- If you have fussy kids home, then blend the onion tomato masala after frying. Add it back to the same pan and follow the recipe. You will need ¼ to ½ cup more water to cook the curry. When the masala turns thick then add the fried bhindi & simmer for a short while.
The entire task of sautéing becomes easier in the air fryer. But doing it right is a bit tricky. I spread the chopped bhindi in the basket and air fry them at 320 F or 160 C for 4 to 5 minutes. But make sure you don’t chop them too small as they will become lifeless and dry after air frying.
If they are too young and fresh they take a little longer. If they are not too fresh then it takes only 3 minutes. But again I would suggest you eat some of the air fried bhindi first to make sure they are not slimy. Then add them to the onion tomato masala.
No! Do not cover. Saute bhindi uncovered until all of the slime dries up. Covering the pan brings out the moisture from bhindi and turns them slimy.
To retain the green color, stir fry bhindi in a pan until they wilt. Avoid covering or overcooking okra which discolors them.
When okra is cooked, you will see them wilting and changing their color from green to dark green. Also they are no more slimy when perfectly cooked.
Use a good amount of oil & stir fry them first, so they don’t turn sticky while cooking. Avoid adding any kind of moisture to the pan until all of the slime has gone.
Okra when chilled in the refrigerator for many days is more likely to turn black. Ensure there is no moisture trapped in the plastic bags. If possible keep them in cloth bags so they remain fresh for longer.
Cooking okra without stir frying first can make them slimy. So always stir fry them first until almost cooked then add them to curry or stew.
Avoid washing okra after cutting. When the cut okra comes in contact with moisture, they become slimy.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 250 grams bhindi (ladies finger – okra)
- 3 tablespoons oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1 cup onions (2 medium) (finely chopped or processed)
- 1 green chilli slit (optional)
- ¾ tablespoons ginger garlic paste or crushed
- 1 cup tomatoes (2 medium) (deseeded & chopped or pureed)
- ½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric or haldi
- ½ to 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ¾ teaspoon coriander powder (optional)
- ½ teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) (optional)
- water as needed
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves or cilantro (optional)
- Rinse bhindi very well under running water & drain them.
- Wipe off with a clean kitchen cloth or tissues to remove all the moisture. You can also leave on the counter top for a while to air dry. Any moisture on the bhindi will make them slimy while cooking so wipe dry them completely.
- Chop off both the ends and discard them. Chop the bhindi to ¾ inch pieces.
How to make bhindi masala
- Heat 1½ tablespoons oil in a pan.
- Saute bhindi on a medium flame for about 5 to 7 mins stirring often until they are partially cooked. At this stage they should be no more sticky & slimy after sauteing.
- Transfer them to a plate and set aside.
- Add 1½ to 2 tablespoons more oil to the same pan. Then add cumin seeds.
- When they begin to splutter, saute onions and green chili until they turn golden.
- Next saute ginger garlic for 2 mins till the raw smell of the garlic goes away.
- Then saute tomatoes with salt until they turn soft and mushy.
- Stir in red chili powder, turmeric, garam masala & coriander powder. Saute until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan.
- Pour 6 tablespoons (little less than half cup) water & mix well. Cook the masala until it turns thick. This brings out the flavors of spices. (check video for consistency)
- Taste test and add more salt if needed. Stir in the kasuri methi & bhindi.
- Cover and cook on a low heat until bhindi turns slightly tender and the aroma comes out.
- Open the lid and evaporate any excess moisture.
- Serve bhindi masala with roti or rice.
- Choose fresh, tender and young bhindi as they get cooked faster and taste good. Veggies that have been lying around the fridge for longer take forever to lose the slime.
- Wash and wipe dry before chopping. While chopping, wipe off the sticky residue on the knife to a disposable tissue. This helps in easier chopping.
- Do not chop them too small as they turn stickier while cooking.
- Do not skimp on the oil. It helps to get rid of the sticky substance quickly.
- One to two tbsp of lemon juice can be sprinkled on the bhindi after sautéing in the oil for a minute. This reduces the slime but makes the dish sour. So more spice powders will be needed.
- You can also add some boiled potatoes. Just cube the boiled potatoes and add them to the onion tomato masala along with pan fried bhindi. Cover and simmer for a while for the veggies to absorb the flavors.
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)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Bhindi masala recipe first published in October 2017. Updated & republished in July 2021.