Originally from Africa and also very popular in Indian, Caribbean and Middle Eastern cookery, okra are also known as 'ladies' fingers'. They are narrow green-skinned ribbed pods that contain rows of edible creamy seeds that ooze a viscous liquid when cooked. They have a mild-bean like flavour when cooked. Look for firm, small green pods (a brownish tinge indicates they are stale) no longer than 8 cm and avoid any that appear shrivelled or feel soft when gently squeezed.
How to Use
Okra is served cooked. It is included in a variety of savoury dishes including curries, vegetable stews and soups where the viscous liquid acts as a natural thickener. Okra is an essential ingredient in gumbo a hearty, spicy chicken and prawn stew from New Orleans.
How to Prepare
Top and tail the pods and if the skin appears to be damaged in any way, scrape it with a small, sharp knife. Leave whole or slice.
How to Cook
Okra can be boiled or fried but is best cooked with other ingredients. To boil, bring a pan of water to the boil, add the prepared okra and cook for 4-6 minutes or until tender. To fry, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the prepared okra for 5-10 minutes or until tender. For added flavour fry the okra with garlic and onion, cumin and turmeric.
How to Store
Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.