Okra with Coconut

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Fall seems to be rushing into NYC earlier than usual this year. Before summer is all gone, I have to share this recipe with you. Eating okra while summer transitions into fall will help your body release accumulated heat (and toxins) so that you can enjoy the beautiful fall season without getting congested.


No matter what you’ve thought about okra before, you’ve got to try this recipe. It is so delicious, it will surprise even those hesitant to experiment. Plus, okra is far too beneficial for our health to miss.


Tridoshic and somagenic okra, when not properly cooked, can increase Kapha. The spices and cooking method I use in this recipe reduce the Kapha-aggravating quality of okra.


Vaidya R.K. Mishra highly recommended regularly eating okra, as its toxin-binding properties support the cleansing of the blood and muscle tissues and of the liver.


When shopping for this mid- to late summer vegetable, select young, crisp pods (about 3 inches long). Whenever I visit Indian grocery stores, I always notice a couple of ladies around the okra basket, grabbing and snapping off the pods’ pointed ends, as if they’ve entered the “snatch the best okra” competition. As annoying as this ritual can be, snapping the ends is how you test the freshness of okra! (The ends of old pods will only bend, not snap.)


In her book, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, Rebecca Wood recommends not to cook okra in aluminum or cast iron pans, “as the vegetable readily absorbs metallic ions from reactive cookware, which compromises okra’s color and flavor.”


For a simple meal, serve this flavorful vegetable dish with a grain or flatbread and a chutney.


Serves: 2 or 3             Prep: 10 minutes                     Cook: 15 minutes


2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon kalonji seeds (aka black cumin)

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (omit if you feel too Fiery/ high Pitta)

5 fresh curry leaves (use a few more if the leaves are small)

1.5 pounds okra, halved lengthwise and cut into 1.5-inch pieces (3 cups)

3 tablespoons finely grated coconut, dried or fresh

¾ teaspoon Cooling Pungent Masala

½ teaspoon Soma Salt


lime slices


For Earthy Digestion: Add 1 seeded and minced green Thai chile with the ginger in Step 1.


  1. Heat the ghee in a skillet over low heat. Add the turmeric and toast for 10 seconds, then add the kalonji seeds and toast for another 10 seconds, until the spices release their aroma. Add the ginger and curry leaves and continue to toast and crisp them for another 10 seconds; add the okra. Toss well, increase the heat to medium-low and sauté, shaking or stirring frequently but gently with a metal spoon—10 to 15 minutes, or until the okra is tender yet still vibrant green. (Be careful not to mash the vegetables while stirring.) You may cover the skillet to speed up the cooking, but do so only briefly, or the condensation will make your okra slippery, giving it the dreaded “slimy” feel. If the okra begins to brown and stick to the pan, lower the heat.


  1. Fold in the coconut, masala, and salt and continue to toss and cook for 5 more minutes, until the okra is tender and the coconut has browned slightly and absorbed the excess moisture.


  1. Turn off the heat, plate, and garnish the okra with lime slices. Serve immediately.



The Healing Benefits of Okra

How to Cook Okra Without Making It Slimy 

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5 replies
  1. Gail
    Gail says:

    The secret to nonslimy okra is to rinse very briefly and immediately dry the okra before cutting. Then cook with no water at all, just ghee. Looking forward to trying this recipe! We are lucky to still have okra at the farmers market.
    Loving your cookbook, Divya, and always excited to see what recipes will be next in your blog!

  2. LM
    LM says:

    A while ago I tryed a similar recipe and, although I liked it so much, the okras gave me strong cramps, bloating and even worse… I do wonder why. Do you have any ideea?

    • Divya Alter
      Divya Alter says:

      Okra can cause indigestion when not cooked fully, i.e. it’s on the crunchy side. I remember my teacher Vaidya Mishra telling me that when okra is not cooked fully, it causes ama (semi-digested toxic residue). Maybe that was the problem?


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