Roast | Varuval is a most popular side dish amongst the South Indians. For those not familiar with the term, it is nothing but veggies shallow fried in oil until it becomes crisp. At home we make roasts with 5 kinds of veggies viz., Vazhakai (raw banana), Urulaikizhangu (Potato), Sepankizhangu (Arbi), Vendakai (Okra) and Dondakkai (tindora) and all are our favourites. Amongst these veggies, okra is a bit tricky. All of us know that Okra is known for its gooey and slimy nature. There are more haters than lovers. As per this "The Kitchn" article, this veggie is more popular among Asians, especially Indians, southern USA, Mediterranean and Japan. It has some tips on how to reduce the slime.
To prevent the sliminess, there should not be any water or moisture while cooking. So there are two things to do. Do not cover the pan while cooking and do not sprinkle water so that it does not steam cook. You can cover it for few minutes, in the beginning, to aid in the cooking but do not keep it fully covered. Without the lid, I do not have to worry about it. The second thing is we add salt at the end since salt alt as you know brings out the moisture content from the veggies. Also, you have to keep stirring it so that it gets cooked evenly.
I have also seen people marinating the chopped veggies in curd before frying it. Or add curd while cooking to prevent it from getting slimy. I have also seen my cousin making the amazing roast with the lid on throughout, but I have never tried. I am used to seeing my mom and aunts cook this way and I am very comfortable with that as it gives me the result every time. So this is how I do.
- Wash the okra and pat dry them completely with a towel. Then chop them. When you are just starting, do not chop them very thin. It can easily break when you are constantly stirring them.
- Then add the okra in hot oil. You will need an extra amount of oil than you normally would while sautéing other veggies. After giving it a few stir, reduce the flame and keep it in medium-low heat. Toss it every now and then to ensure even cooking. As you keep stirring you can see that the sliminess reduces and eventually it becomes dry.
- At this point, add the salt and chilli powder. If needed you can add few drops of oil. Also, you can add a little of rice flour to get the extra crispiness.
- Keep it on the flame until it the veggies are roasted as much as you need.
- 6 Cups chopped Vendakkai | Okra
- 4 tablespoon Oil
- ¼ teaspoon Mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon Ulutham Parupu | Urad dahl
- 2 tablespoon Verkadalai | peanuts optional
- Few Curry leaves
- 2 Red chillies
- A pinch of Turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon Red chilli powder
- Salt as needed
- Heat oil in a kadai. Once hot, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add the curry leaves, red chillies and urad dahl.
- Once the dahl turns golden brown, add a pinch of turmeric. Then immediately add the chopped vendakai.
- Cover and cook for about 3-4 minutes so that it softens a little bit. Remove the lid , reduce the flame to medium-low and cook uncovered. Keep stirring it in few minutes intervals.
- Once the sliminess reduces completely, add salt and chilli powder.
- At this stage, add oil and / or rice flour to get extra crispiness.
- Keep cooking until it reches the desired level of roast you need.
Generally if we are making any veggies, it is usual to sprinkle some water to cook them. But for lady's finger you should not. If you want to get a crispy vendakkai roast there are two things to follow. First do not add water and then add salt only at the end. Please refer above for preventing slime. Also the okra will reduce in quantity when you fry it. So keep that in mind while preparation.
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