Cooking Tips + Kitchen Tips

Published on September 9th, 2013 | by Guest Contributor


Okra Recipe: How to cook this well-traveled vegetable

Curried Okra RecipeOkra has its origins in Africa and grows beautifully all over the world. Here’s a curried okra recipe along with more about this well-traveled vegetable.

If you grew up in Illinois, you were probably like me and okra never crossed your mind–or plate. The fact is that I never laid eyes on an okra plant or ate an okra pod until my brother started growing it on his central Illinois farm. Now I pluck it off the tall beautiful flowering plants and eat it raw, stir fried, or sauteed with fresh tomatoes and sweet corn.

Although it is native to Africa, okra grows beautifully in hot, humid Midwestern summers. And it’s a perfect plant for edible landscaping as well, since it’s a member of the Hibiscus family, and puts out many showy yellow flowers throughout the summer.

A Well-Traveled Veggie

From Africa, okra traveled far and wide, becoming the bhindi in Indian curries, the bamies in Arab and Mediterranean food, and lady’s fingers in England and the English Caribbean. But long before, when it grew wild on the White Nile, it was nkurama in the Twi language of present-day Ghana. Nkurama crossed the Atlantic with the slave trade and the name became shortened to okra.

Don’t Fear the Slime

Even though okra has become a common sight at mid-summer farmers markets, it is still a vegetable that gets few raves — mainly because of the perceived slime factor. And yes, if you cook the living daylights out of it, there will be a thickening effect, which is precisely what it has been used for in soups and gumbos.

But when you get very fresh okra, and cook it lightly and quickly, there is no slickness. Millions of people all over Africa, India, the Middle East, the Caribbean, South America, and the Balkans enjoy okra cooked in many ways, and you will too.

In addition to being packed with fiber that can lower cholesterol, one cup of okra is only 33 calories, and contains lots of vitamins (A, C, K and B-complex), minerals (calcium, manganese, and magnesium), and antioxidants.

Curried Okra Recipe

Yield: 4 servings


  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion or 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 lb fresh okra, stems cut off, and okra pods cut into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 hot pepper of any sort, minced (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of curry powder, or more to taste


  1. Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until golden.
  2. Add garlic, pepper, curry powder, and okra. Stir-fry about 5 minutes or until okra is bright green and tender-crisp.

Creative Commons LicenseThe Land Connection Foundation

The best way to enjoy healthy, seasonal produce is to buy it from your local community farmer. To locate the farmers’ market or CSA nearest you, visit

Farm Fresh Now! is a project of The Land Connection, an educational nonprofit that preserves farmland, trains new farmers, and connects people with great locally-grown foods. This series is made possible with generous support from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Keep up with the latest sustainable food news by signing up for our free newsletter. CLICK HERE to sign up!

Tags: , , , , , ,

About the Author

is many, many people. We publish a number of guest posts from experts in a large variety of fields. This is our contributor account for those special people. :D

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑
  • Support our Site!

  • Let’s Connect!

  • Popular Posts & Pages

    Whether you are looking to completely give up animal products or just want to try eating vegan some of the time, we want to support you! Below, you’ll find articles answering some common questions about vegan cooking and nutrition. If you don’t see your question answered below, please get in touch with us! We are happy to investigate for you!

    Find out what's in season now, plus get plenty of recipe inspiration to help you make the most of every season's beautiful, local fare.

    I love infographics. When I came across this one about what, how, and when to plant vegetables, I thought I’d share. Keep reading after the pic for a few of my own lessons learned.

    Top Sustainable Food Jobs of the Week.

    Looking for an all vegan grocery store? Even if you’re not lucky enough to have one in your town, there are lots of online options for vegan grocery shopping.

  • Search the IM Network

  • The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by, and do not necessarily represent the views of Sustainable Enterprises Media, Inc., its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.