Apr 6, 2008

Okras in tomato mustard gravy .... Bhendi besara khatta

I normally prepare oriya meals when there is plenty of time at hand and the meal can be savoured with leisure and nostalgic memories.Every bite transports me back in time ,the delicate flavours tingling my tastebuds and reminding me of home.There is already a list of sweets and savouries ready in my mind to be hogged once I go back home.My Bappa's (father) constant leg pulling that I come from a drought stricken land doesn't at all deter me from my voracious gorging :)
The month of march just flew past and suddenly I realised that I didn't post a single oriya recipe.So here I am with my humble dish......a simple curry devoid of any frills and fuss but amazingly tasty.Bhendi Besara Khatta is Okras cooked in mustard and tomato gravy.Besara is a genre of oriya curry where mustard paste is the main ingredient.The tomato in the gravy imparts the required sourness and that's why the term Khatta meaning sour.This is my Bappa's favourite and I grew up eating and cooking this authentic delicacy.
The other ingredient which lends an unique flavour to the curry is Pancha Phutana.....a mix of cumin ,mustard, aniseed, fenugreek and nigella seeds and which literally means five spices.Oriya and Bengali cuisine is incomplete without the ubiquitous tempering of pancha phutana or panch phoran.

 Pancha Phutana

The actual flavour of the mustard paste gets enhanced when it is grinded on a Shila Bataa ,a flattened ,pitted stone on which the spices are ground with a smaller stone.Every oriya kitchen possesses the shila bataa and each and every spice and masala is ground to perfection and that too patiently!Lot of people complain about the mustard paste turning bitter if ground in a mixer and fortunatelyI have never faced this problem though mine gets ground in a coffee grinder.
You Need:
1 pkt frozen okraas or 250 gms fresh ones
1 tomato( sour variety) or equivalent amt of tomato paste
1-2 tbsp whisked curd
3 tsp mustard seeds
2 green chillies
2-3 flakes garlic
1 tsp pancha phutana(mix of cumin,mustard,aniseed,fenugreek,nigella seeds)
5-6 curry leaves
1 tbsp chopped coriander
2 tbsp mustard oil
1 cup water
1/2 tsp turmeric pwdr
salt to taste
1.Make a paste out of the mustard seeds,green chillies and garlic with little water.You can add the tomato in the mixer after the paste is half made.
2.Cut the okraas into 1" pieces.
3.Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and half cook the okra and keep it aside.
4.Heat 1 tbsp oil in the same pan and add the pancha phutana and curry leaves,add the ground paste after the tempering starts spluttering.Add the turmeric.
5.Cook the paste for 3-4 mins and then add the okras and water.Add the salt.
6.Cook the okras in the gravy till fully cooked ,lastly add the curd,give one boil and switch off the heat and garnish with coriander leaves.Serve with steamed rice.

P.S You can add more water if you want a thin consistency and remember to use a tomato of sour variety as its a sour dish.I used a tinned one,so the vinegar in it imparted a nice amount of sourness.Tomato can be put while cooking the paste if you like slushy chunks in the gravy.
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