Recipe: Spicy Okra

Okra is a vegetable that intrigues me. It is full of paradoxes. People either love it or hate it. It is a humble vegetable in many parts of the world, yet incredibly exotic in others. It can be both creamy and slimy, crunchy or soggy. It is quite pudgy and ugly and yet it is known as “lady’s fingers” which surely should be symbolic of innate slenderness and grace.

Okra is also the perfect vehicle for flavour, not having much of its own, it can dutifully carry the load of any spices you add to it. This recipe is an attempt at a simple dish where the okra is showcased. The end result is spicy yet fresh and crisp.



  • 1 Tbs (20ml) olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 200g okra, trimmed and sliced into short lengths (3cm)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 red chilli, finely chopped (or ½ tsp powdered/flakes)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • Handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Heat oil in a medium sized fry pan over medium heat. Add the the onions, cooking until soft (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add the okra, tomatoes and chilli, stirring to combine. Cook for 10 minutes while stirring gently. (The okra will emit a sticky substance but this will reduce over time).
  3. Increase heat, add ground cumin and coriander and cook for 2 minutes while stirring to coat the vegetables with the spices and to provide contact with the bottom of the pan.
  4. Reduce heat and add 1 Tbs water. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir through fresh coriander, season with salt & pepper, and serve.


  • This dish has been designed to keep the okra crisp, if you prefer it well cooked simply add more water and simmer for longer until done to your preference.
  • As the okra is still crisp, this dish is good for leftovers and can be eaten at room temperature.
  • This dish can be served as a main or a side dish.

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