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Okra

A slender, five–sided pod that contains numerous white seeds. When young, okra is eaten as a vegetable; the older pods are usually dried, then powdered and used as a flavouring. When cooked, okra releases a sticky, gelatinous substance, which serves to thicken stews and soups such as the Cajun and Creole dish, gumbo. Okra is also used extensively in India, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. It can also be eaten raw in salads or blanched, then dressed in a vinaigrette. Buy pods that are tender and healthy green in colour. They should snap rather than bend and should be no more than 10 cm long. If too ripe, the pod will feel very sticky. To prepare, gently scrub with paper towel or a vegetable brush. Rinse and drain, then slice off the top and tail. If using as a thickener, blanch whole first, then slice and add to the dish about 10 minutes before the end of cooking. In some recipes, the pod is used whole, thus preventing the release of the sticky substances within.

Special Note

Okra goes with — aubergine, onion, pepper, tomato Also known as — bhindi, gumbo, ladies’ fingers