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Let's face it; okra gets a bad rap. People typically don't like it because of its texture, often referring to it as "slimy" or "oozy," but in fact, okra is a delicious vegetable that has a refreshing and grassy flavor, pairing well with corn, tomatoes, and eggplant. To the skeptical okra eaters out there please pay attention, there is no trick to enjoying okra, it's just how you prepare it. Growing up in India, chef Meherwan Irani's mom was in a constant battle with her sons about their abysmal okra consumption. It wasn't until the okra fry came into the picture that Meherwan saw the light, the crispy, green, lime juice, and chaat masala-covered light. Instead of chopping the little green pods into short segments, Meherwan's mom julienned the veggies by hand, cutting the okra into long, thin strips, and then frying them in canola oil. Lime juice, chaat masala, a funky, zippy, Indian seasoning salt, gave the okra fries added flavor and brightness. Fast forward to 2019 and Meherwan's Mom's Matchstick Okra Fries are a staple on the Chai Pani menu and have gained notoriety, with features in numerous magazines and online articles, including Garden & Gun. Can't make it to a Chai Pani anytime soon? Make 'em at home and be ready to change the way you think about okra!
MATCHSTICK OKRA FRIES
- Julienne okra lengthwise, cutting it into thin strips about the width of shoestring fries.
- In a stockpot or deep fryer, heat canola oil over medium-high. Once the oil reaches 350 degrees, add the okra in small batches, taking care not to crowd the pot. Using a skimmer or tongs, gently turn the okra to ensure even cooking. Fry 2-3 minutes or until the okra is lightly browned, and then remove it to a paper towel using a skimmer or slotted spoon. The okra should be crispy but not dark.
- Once the paper towel has soaked up some of the excess oil, place the hot okra in a bowl and toss with salt, chaat masala, and lime juice. (Squeeze just half the lime at first, and then increase the amounts of salt and lime juice to taste.)