Spicy Okra and Tomatoes Recipe

High Angle View Of Tomatoes And Okras For Sale In Market
Adam Hurley / EyeEm / Getty Images
  • 30 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Ratings (21)

Browned onion, garlic, and a few tomatoes create a delicious coating for sweet, fresh okra. Cooking okra this way—without much liquid and with a fair amount of acid (from the tomatoes)—minimizes the "slime" factor so many people associate with okra. The Indian-style spices make this dish perfect for a vegetarian meal with rice and lentils or beans, but it's also super yummy alongside grilled meats.

Note that this dish reheats beautifully, so go ahead and make it ahead of time (even a few days ahead) and reheat as needed. Leftovers are particularly good alongside scrambled eggs is, like me, you appreciate a savory breakfast.

What You'll Need

  • 1 1/2 pounds okra
  • 1 medium yellow or red onion
  • 3 medium tomatoes (canned tomatoes work just fine in this recipe)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chile powder (I like ancho chile powder for this dish, but it's very flexible)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

How to Make It

  1. Trim off and discard the stem ends from the okra and cut the pods into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices.* Set the prepped okra aside.
  2. Peel and thinly slice the onion; set it aside.
  3. Chop the tomatoes, reserving their juices; peel and mince the garlic; set them both aside.
  4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or saute pan over high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions start to brown, about 5 minutes.
  1. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until brightly fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the chile powder, cumin seeds, turmeric, and cayenne, if using, and cook, stirring as the spices sizzle, another 30 seconds.
  3. Add the okra and stir to coat the pieces with the onion-spice mixture.
  4. Add the tomatoes, any juices they've released, the salt, and 1/2 cup of water.
  5. Stir to combine everything and then cover. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer.
  6. Cook until the okra is tender and the flavors are well blended 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Take off the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and add more salt to taste, if you like.
  8. Serve the okra hot or warm (although, as mentioned above, the cold leftovers are pretty tasty, too).

* If you have tender, young, small, truly fresh okra, you can also cook them whole. You may need to increase the cooking time by a couple minutes, but otherwise, you can proceed with the recipe as written but without the okra chopping.