Indian-Style okra with tomatoes

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Indian-Style okra with tomatoes
Trish Metzner, Director of Cardiac Services, asks "How do you cube a cherry tomato?" as suggested in last week's recipe. You take six little tiny slices from each side .... Another reader asked about the significance of 10,000 steps — taking 10,000 steps per day is a reasonable goal as part of an overall exercise program. At 6’ tall, a mile is about 1,900 steps. Pedometers are available in the pharmacy or at health education bookstore. While contemplating what to do with fresh okra that has just come into season, Dr. Nandini Bakshi from Neurology suggested adding sliced okra to caramelized red onions, seasoning with a little cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper, and adding lemon juice. Evidently, acid in the lemon juice somehow prevents okra from getting slimy. Based on this advice, I approached this week's recipe exploration and taste test with trepidation but found an excellent recipe that also uses big heirloom tomatoes. The acidity of the tomatoes, as well as the lemon juice, prevents sliminess. The okra turned out al dente and tasted great over couscous.

Servings: 6


  • 1 lb okra
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 large onion, diced (You may already know this, but I recently learned the easiest way to dice an onion: peel, slice in half, leaving the root or stem end intact. Make vertical cuts the size of the desired dice from the cut flat side, but not all the way through. Repeat at a 90° angle. Then slice the onion as you normally would and watch all the little diced pieces pile up.)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1” piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (I keep a piece peeled and frozen and then grate it)
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 3-1/2 cups tomatoes, coarsely chopped (no need to peel or seed)
  • Recipes from Dr. Preston Maring’s Farmers’ Market Update & Recipe of the Week, Vol. 3 Page 1
  • Salt
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish


Slice off tough okra stems and skinny tips. Slice crosswise into pieces about 1/3" thick. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cumin and fennel seeds. Sauté until lightly browned and fragrant. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until softened. Add the tomatoes, saffron, crushed chilis and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer over moderately high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often until the tomatoes are reduced to a thick sauce, about 20 minutes. Add the okra and salt to taste. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, adding a little water if the mixture starts to look dry. Don't stir very much. Serve garnished with cilantro.