Okra Pilaf With Turmeric and Curry Leaves 4.000

Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Sep 5, 2018

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.

To read the accompanying story, see: Think you hate okra? These slime-cutting techniques will change your mind.

Make Ahead: 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.

Where to Buy: Curry leaves are available at Indian markets.

4 - 6

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: 4-6 servings

  • 8 ounces fresh okra
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon; may substitute fresh lime juice)
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 1 1/3 cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seed
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small poblano pepper, seeded and diced
  • 20 to 25 curry leaves (from about 2 sprigs; see headnote)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 2/3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt


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.

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

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

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.

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).

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.

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.

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Recipe Source

From food writer Emily Horton.

Tested by Anne Midgette.

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