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Braised Okra With Tomatoes, Peppers and Spices

Braised Okra With Tomatoes, Peppers and Spices 4.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Aug 29, 2016

In this simple take on Indian tomato-based curries, the okra is seared first and then cooked slowly in a fragrant, spicy sauce.

The sauce is versatile; if your okra season is short, you could substitute green beans or even cubes of tofu, stirred in toward the end of cooking just to warm through.

Serve with rice or another grain.

Make Ahead: The dish can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Where to Buy: Nigella seed is available at Penzeys stores in Rockville and Falls Church, and through various online purveyors.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings; makes about 3 cups

  • 12 ounces okra, preferably with pods no more than 3 inches long
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons peeled, minced fresh ginger root
  • 10 large sprigs cilantro, leaves and stems separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon nigella seed (see headnote)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons peanut or sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces mildly hot peppers, such as Anaheim or poblano, or a mix of hot and sweet peppers, finely chopped (and seeded, if you like)
  • 12 ounces ripe tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped, with juices (see NOTE)


Wash the okra and dry it completely on kitchen towels. Trim the stem ends, being careful not to cut into the okra itself.

Toast the cumin seed in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring for 1 to 2 minutes and watching closely to avoid scorching. Transfer to a bowl, along with the garlic and ginger. Finely chop the cilantro stems and add to the bowl. Coarsely chop the cilantro leaves.

Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the nigella seed to the skillet; toast for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the pan to avoid scorching. Transfer to a small bowl.

Heat a large, wide nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once it's hot, add 1 teaspoon of the oil, then add half of the okra (no more than will cover the pan in one layer) and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt. Pan-fry, tossing the okra occasionally, until it is beginning to sear (with dark patches) on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a large platter. Repeat with another teaspoon of oil, the remaining okra and another 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Remove from the heat.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onion and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt; cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Stir in the peppers; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the cumin, garlic, ginger and cilantro stem mixture; cook for 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and their juices; increase the heat to medium-high. Once the mixture is bubbling, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook (uncovered) for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring, until the mixture thickens.

Add the okra to the pot, then use a spatula to combine the okra with the sauce, being careful not to break the pods. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the okra is thoroughly tender and the sauce is thick, reducing the heat as needed so the sauce is gently bubbling at the edges. After 10 to 20 minutes, check the sauce; if it's not reducing enough, leave the pot only partly covered for the remaining cook time.

Stir in the chopped cilantro leaves and toasted nigella seed, cover and let the mixture rest for 5 minutes before serving.

NOTE: To peel tomatoes, score a shallow X in the bottom of each one. Place them in a bowl of just-boiled water; let them sit for few minutes, until you can see the skin starting to pull back from the X mark. Immediately transfer to an ice-water bath. Peel off and discard the skins as soon as the tomatoes have cooled.

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Recipe Source

From food writer Emily C. Horton.

Tested by Richard Kerr.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (using peanut oil): 160

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 10g 15%

Saturated Fat: 2g 10%

Cholesterol: 0mg 0%

Sodium: 280mg 12%

Total Carbohydrates: 19g 6%

Dietary Fiber: 5g 20%

Sugar: 7g

Protein: 4g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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