Gujarati-Style Okra & Potatoes (Bhinda Bateta nu Shaak) is an everyday comfort food in many Gujarati homes, including mine. It’s usually scooped up with soft, hot rotlis (chapattis), which is our daily bread.
This curry is delicately flavoured with cumin seeds, turmeric, garlic and lemon juice for a fresh vegan dish that eats more like a stir fry than the heavy restaurant curries one might be used to.
The potatoes are cut thinly for speedy cooking. After just 10 minutes of cooking, the potatoes become tender and the okra remain crunchy, fresh and not at all sticky. The total prep time is just 15 minutes which means you can have this curry on the table in just 30 minutes!
One of the most common questions I’m asked about cooking okra is how to ensure they don’t become slimy. The answer is simple; They must be free from any water prior to and during the cooking process. This is because it’s water that draws out the natural stickiness of okra. All you need to do is wash the whole okra and pat dry before slicing and cooking. You can also cook them whole (trim off the stems first). My recipe here uses sliced okra for quick cooking.
The lemon juice in this Bateta nu Shaak serves two purposes; It adds a fresh, zingy flavour and also breaks down any sliminess in the okra. The natural acid ensures the stickiness in the okra is minimal. Add it halfway through cooking to evaporate the excess liquid.
Like frozen peas, I believe frozen okra are just as good frozen as they are fresh. As long as the brand you buy is packed correctly so that the okra are free from excess water, they are just fine for everyday curries like this one.
However, if you find the frozen okra are a little bit frosty, lay them out on a dry tea towel and pat them dry before cooking.
Time needed: 30 minutes.
How to make Gujarati-Style Okra & Potatoes
If using fresh okra, wash the whole okra and pat them dry using a clean tea towel. Slice the dry okra into rings, discarding the stems. If using frozen okra, ensure they are frost free. If they are a bit frosty, lay them out in a clean tea towel and pat dry. Slice into rings if whole.
Slice the potatoes thinly (about 2cm wide and a couple of mm in thickness). They shouldn’t be wafer thin. Chop the tomatoes into small cubes.
Heat the oil in a large, non-stick or cast iron pan. Add the mustard seeds and allow to crackle. Once they’ve stopped crackling, add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. Sauté for a few seconds and then add the garlic and tomatoes. Cook until the water from the tomatoes evaporates and they have broken down completely.
Next, add the potatoes, chilli powder, ground coriander seeds, salt and water. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook until the potatoes are tender. Remove the lid and continue to cook until all the water has evaporated. Stir fry the potatoes until the edges become slightly brown and crispy.
Add the sliced okra and stir fry over a high heat for 5 minutes. Stir often. Add the lemon juice and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes until the lemon juice has evaporated and the okra shrinks slightly and becomes darker in colour. I like them a little crunchy. To test, simply cook one okra ring and taste to check if it’s cooked to your liking. If you prefer them to be softer, continue to cook without adding any water for 3-4 minutes longer.
Garnish with fresh chillies, thin sev and coriander leaves. Serve hot with chapattis.
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