Marinating the okra with lemon juice and salt in advance keeps the okra juicy without being slimy, and rinsing the rice thoroughly before cooking and allowing it to rest after cooking helps to ensure a fluffy pilaf.

Curry leaves are available at Indian markets.

The okra needs to marinate for 1 to 2 hours. Leftover rice can be reheated in a 350-degree oven or in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; turn the rice periodically until heated through.


8ouncesfresh okra

2tablespoonsfresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon; may substitute fresh lime juice)

2teaspoonscoarse sea salt

1 13cupsuncooked basmati rice

2tablespoonspeanut oil

1teaspoonbrown mustard seed

1small yellow onion, finely chopped

1small poblano pepper, seeded and diced

20 to 25 curry leaves (from about 2 sprigs; see headnote)

1teaspoonground turmeric

14teaspoonfreshly ground black pepper

2 23cupswater

1teaspoonfine sea salt


Step 1

Rinse the okra and dry it well, then trim and discard the cone-shaped tops. Place the pods in a mixing bowl; toss with the lemon juice and the coarse sea salt. Let them sit for 1 to 2 hours.

Step 2

Rinse the okra in several changes of water, and then dry it. Cut into 1/2-inch slices.

Step 3

Place the rice in a fine-mesh strainer; rinse with cool water until the water runs clear. Drain thoroughly.

Step 4

Combine the oil and mustard seed in a medium, heavy pot over medium heat. Once the mustard seed begins to pop, stir in the onion and poblano; cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onion becomes translucent. Add the curry leaves, turmeric and black pepper; cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

Step 5

Add the rice, stirring to coat; cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice is opaque and nutty-smelling (do not allow the rice to brown).

Step 6

Add the water, cut okra and the fine sea salt. Increase the heat to high. Once the water boils, stir the rice once, cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes without lifting the lid. Turn off the heat; let the rice rest, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 7

Before serving, use a flexible spatula to gently turn the rice over and around from the bottom of the pot, and fluff with a fork.

From food writer Emily Horton.

Recipe tested by Anne Midgette; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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Calories: 200; Total Fat: 5 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 360 mg; Carbohydrates: 34 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugars: 1 g; Protein: 4 g.