Why some people place okra alongside Brussels sprouts, liver, and syrup of ipecac as one of those horrible things that traumatized them as children and that they’ve since vowed never to ingest again is puzzling. There is the slime factor, yes, but you’ve got to admit those fuzzy little green pods are pretty cute. And deep-fried to a slime-free crisp, as in this recipe from Dévi’s Suvir Saran, they’re as addictive as fries. Look for them now at Union Square Greenmarket’s Oak Grove Plantation stand. Small pods (three inches and under) are best.
Suvir Saran’s Crispy Okra Salad
Canola oil for frying
1 lb. okra, stemmed and julienned lengthwise
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium tomato, cored, seeded, and julienned
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
11/2 teaspoons chaat masala (available at Foods of India)
Heat at least two inches of canola oil to 350 degrees in large sauce pan. (You can gauge temperature with a deep-fry or instant-read thermometer.)
(1) Fry okra until crisp in batches small enough to not crowd the pan (about 5 to 7 minutes). Allow the oil to return to 350 between batches.
(2) Remove fried okra from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, then toss in large bowl with onion, tomato, and cilantro.
(3) Squeeze lemon juice over the salad, season with salt, and toss with chaat masala.