21 March, 2008

Cooking with the Queen: Bendekai Gojju

Bendekai Gojju

Ladies Finger… such an elegant name for Okra/Bhindi. Considered as the queen of vegetables with its slender shape and crown on top, it is one of my favourite vegetable to cook with. Not many people prefer it because of its sliminess. When cut into pieces this queen likes to cling to anything it touches, knife, chopping board, your fingers. Well, no wonder that it’s not everyone’s favourite vegetable to deal with, especially the person who is in charge of the kitchen. Who would really want to deal with this slimy vegetable when you have so many other wonderful vegetables to choose from? It will be me and millions others like me who simply love this vegetables in spite of its clinging nature. The reason behind this is the taste which lingers for long hours. Okra is one vegetable that absorbs all the wonderful flavours of spices and transforms into smooth, silky in texture and unbelievable taste still maintaining its crisp crunch. When cooked to perfection, you will not hear any grumblings or see that ugly frowns or much of resistance from the same people who just moments ago were not very fond of it.

One such dish which undoubtedly is loved by most people is Bendekai/Bhindi/Okra Gojju. Gojju is a classic Kannadiga dish cooked for everyday meal. The recipe varies from one part of the state to another and hence don’t be surprised if you come across other recipes using whole different ingredients and cooking style. This is my Aunt’s recipe which is different from the way my Amma makes it. Crisp, fried okra is simmered in the delicious gravy of tamarind, coconut, jaggary and chilli is everything one can ask for.
Is it spicy? Yes, it is.
Is it sour? Yes, it is.
Is it sweet? Yes, it is.
And is it delicious? You bet…
I am posting this recipe for Archana, one of the readers of Monsoon Spice who wants to introduce Bendekai/Bendekaayi Gojju to her hubby. Archana, I hope you both enjoy this Gojju.

Bendekai Gojju (Okra/Bhindi in Tangy & Spicy Coconut Gravy)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Serves: 4-5

15-20 tender Okra/Bhindi
2 Green Chillies, slit (Adjust acc to taste)
1 lemon sized Tamarind Pulp/1 tsp Tamarind Paste (Adjust acc to taste)
1 lemon sized Jaggary (Adjust acc to taste)
¾ cups Grated Coconut, fresh/frozen
1 tbsp Oil

For Spice Powder:
4-6 Dry Red Chillies (Adjust acc to taste)
½ tbsp Sesame Seeds
1 tsp Black Peppercorns (Adjust acc to taste)
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1 tbsp Chana Dal/Bengal Gram Dal
½ tbsp Urad Dal/Split Black Gram
A big Pinch of Methi Seeds
¼ tsp Hing/Asafoetida

For Tempering:
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
Few Curry Leaves
A big pinch Hing/Asafoetida
1 tsp Oil
Ground Spice Powder for Gojju

Wash the Okra and dry thoroughly using a clean dry cloth. Make sure that all the moisture is removed. This is important step when using Okra in cooking to reduce its sliminess. Once they are dried, cut them into ½ inch rounds using dry knife and keep them aside.
Soak tamarind pulp in a cup of warm water for about 10 mins. Squeeze out the tamarind pulp and discard the seeds. Keep this squeezed tamarind puree aside.
Dry roast all the spices listed, from dry red chillies to hing on a low flame till they are lightly browned. Takes about 2-4 mins of time. Cool the spices and grind them to smooth paste with coconut adding very little water.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and when it is hot add cut okras. Sauté them continuously at medium to high flame till okra turns brown and retains its crispiness. Usually it takes around 5-7 mins.
Once the okras have turns crisp and brown, add tamarind puree, slit chillies if using and mix well. Add about 1 cup of water, salt and jaggary and let it simmer for about 3-4 mins.
Now add ground paste and mix well. Depending on the required consistency of gravy add water and mix well. Cook uncovered on a medium to low heat for about 5-10 mins till all the flavours blend well and small bubbles start to appear.
Remove Gojju from flame. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and curry leaves. When mustard starts to pop and splutter transfer this tadka/tempering into Gojju and mix well. Cover and let it sit for about 10 mins for the flavours to blend well.
Serve this tangy, sweet and spicy Bendekai Gojju with plain steamed white rice and enjoy. You can serve this hot or cold depending on your preference.

Roasted Spices for Gojju

Beginners, always remember not to wash the okra once it is cut into pieces (been there, done that).
To reduce the sliminess of Okra, clean the knife and cutting board in between with kitchen towel or napkin.
Stir fry okra at medium to high temperature till it turns brown and crisp. This way the okra will not be gooey with slime.
When using frozen Okra, thaw and wipe it using kitchen towel. Preheat the oven at around 250 deg C. Line the baking tray with baking sheet or simply spray it with cooking spray. Spread it on a baking tray in single layer and bake it for about 5-10 minutes. I picked this tip from here and it works very well.


  1. My Kind of Gojju looks really tasty, ready to grab a bowl.

  2. Hi Sia,

    Love your okra dish. You describe a method on how to prevent the gooeyness, I actually like it like that :-)

  3. I have to admit i am not a okra lover, but this is one of the most delicious okra dishes i have ever seen

  4. I love gojjus! We have so many different kinds in our household. Never heard of okra gujju...will have to tell my mom. So if you see 2 brown women peering over your blog...you know what we're conspiring in our kitchen ;o)

  5. looks so yummm..nice presentation..bookmarked!

  6. Sia..gojju looks great..can u plz tell me..for what all i can use that spice powder.

    bendekkai can be washed and dried before cutting them..this way also dont make them soggy.

  7. We love the slimy queen. Pretty much the kannadigas way. Delicious Gojju :)

  8. I love Bendekai Gojju.. and ur aunt's version is yummy n delicious.. will try out soon.


  9. I am a lover of bhendi too...thanks for your recipe...another new one for me to try :-)

  10. wow!amazing pictures!never heard of bendekai gojju :D im sure it must be yummy!

  11. Wow, what a wonderful way to cook the queen, I mean okhra. lovely recipe,Sia! bookmarked to try it.

  12. lovely! me too a bhindi fan :) that spice pwd sounds d-lish, do u use it in any other veg as well?

  13. I should try making this for my husband. Am sure he'd really like it! :)

  14. jaggery, tamarind and Okra? What a wonderful combination! Thanks for sharing! The picture looks devouring!

  15. This is totally new to me, but judging by the pics, I can say it tastes great:) I made veg and cheese parathas today, and I'm still wiaitng for your entry to WBB Sia:)

  16. Loks spicy and delicious..Thanks for the tips on how to use okra..Helps for amateurs like me..

  17. I love this gojju! Perfect blend of flavors! Bhindis are great in any form. There was a point, when as a kid, i used to eat them raw :-D. i know your reaction, but i liked them raw as well! And also, making block prints with bhindi caps :-D This vegetable is real fun :).

    The picture with roasted, ground spices is beautiful, Sups!

  18. I am one of those millions who choose it first among all other veggies .
    I can eat it all day . D disliked okra when i married to him , now he also loves it the most , so we both finish every bite of it in a single meal only :)) .
    Gojju is very new for me , I will try if i got some nice okra here . Thanks for recipe Sia, hugs to you ...
    P.S.- come soon and vote for VoW otherwise no more hugs for you :D .

  19. Bendekayi Gojju is my all time favorite gojju! Yours looks delicious, Sup! Thanks for the tip on handling frozen okra. They always get slimy for me & I use them only for saaru. Will definitely utilize the tip from now on! Thanks, Sup!

  20. Oh my goodness!! That is looking so good. I am in search of tangy gravies these days!! guess why!! This is like a treat for me.

  21. yummmmmm!!!!!!!!!!! Bendekai gojju is my all time fav, Sups..... Was at the grocery store this evening, but i didnt pick up bendekai :( You've left me wanting for some right away!!

  22. wow lovely photography! Gojju looks mouthwaterin!

  23. Hey Suppi wonderful entry.. Happy long weekend

  24. I love your photos! Especially the one with the spoonful of spices.

  25. Sia i love okraas and this is such adifferent recipe if i compare it to my style of cooking...amazing snaps:)

  26. hey Sia what a lovely Gojju...and my favourite vegetable too...I am surely going to try this one out....mouthwatering...slurrp...

    Oki its my time to tag you for 8*8*8 MeMe...you can check out my 8*8*8MeMe at http://mykookbook.blogspot.com/2008/03/888-meme.html

    Cheers :)

  27. That's it! I am desperate for some bhendi (its my FAV) !! I was loking in the store y'sday and the okra looked ready for a funeral.. had no heart to buy frozen.. BUT this recipe demands to be made .. frozen bhendi it is, with ur tip and I'm making it this weekend!

  28. Wow ...delicious ...my fav gojju

  29. Hi Sia,
    Happy Holi !!
    This bhindi sabji looks delicious & love photos..

  30. Anyone can poison me with okras! I LOVE that vegetable so very much.

  31. And I love this queen too! Bookmarked to try.....I faintly remember eating somethign liek this at one of the south Indian weddings and loved it!

  32. I remember eating this one at our Kannadiga neighbor's place a long time back. If I close my eyes I can still taste it.:-)
    Thanks to Asha's event, I made my version of a gojju.
    I've not tried it with okra yet.

  33. i love the pic with the ground masala!!! awesome!! love bendakkai anyway!!

  34. Hi Sups!!
    Oh yes! Gojju looks so yum and that spice powder definitely enhanced the simple flavour of ladies finger.Have a nice weekend

  35. hmm.. u made okra so sexy! i love okra in all its form but i am sure you convinced some non friendly types over to your side too.:)

  36. Sia, recipe comes to me like a breath of fresh air, I am so used to just makinf bhindi masala all the time. Will give this a try

  37. hey that looks good...we make the same way too!...lovely pictures sia..

  38. I will try this when bhindi comes back into season here :-)

  39. I love Okra and this reminds me to cook. I bought fresh okra, so I better make this gojju for dinner!! My type gojju is totally different..so will try your style.

  40. @ISG, happy cook, dhivya, cham, siri, suni, anjali, uma, kali, liberal foodie, divya, ramya, raks, smn, vege yum, saswati, vanamala, cynth, coffee, TBC, arundathi, padmaja, mallugirl, sreelu, srivalli, raaga, lg,
    wow, there r many of us who adore okra:) thanks a lot for ur input girls:) and thos u r giving it a shot, plz do let me know how u like it.

    @zlamushka, musie,
    u two girls r some exceptions;) like it gooey and raw???? amazing!!! ;)

    thats what i was wondering!!! i saw two lurking heads yest...so it was u and ur mom? he he he...

    @lavi, richa,
    i use this spice powder in stir fries also as they taste great with roasted flavour of seasame and other spices.

    i know girl, let me see if i can post something special for u pretty soon.. :)

    lol...u have converted D then;) i left my votes yest:)

    tangy gravies eh??? i wonder why!!! ;)

    @vani, manasi,
    glad u found the tip useful... do let me know when u try it.

    thanks girl for tagging me...

    happy holi to u too:)

  41. mouthwatering.. with all that sweet sour spicy taste...


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