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As a child okra (also known as lady’s finger or bhindi) was always a struggle for me to eat. I would force it down with a wrinkled nose, disliking every aspect of the experience. I have now come to the conclusion that it wasn’t so much the vegetable that I was so averse to, but the way in which it was prepared. If you are not careful with your okra, it can make any dish into a slimy, gluey creation. Of course if that is what you are going for, and I have to believe that some people are going for that, then right on.
Summer is quickly approaching and the temperature, where I live, is slowly creeping towards 90. As it gets hotter and more humid my tolerance for hot food goes down. When it’s above 90 degrees I often turn to sandwiches, wraps and salads--and this particular wrap is filled with yummy goodness. Also, lettuce is in season and makes a lovely addition to any wrap, sandwich or salad.
This refreshing drink is a favorite in India and is traditionally associated with Holi. It is also especially served on the night of worship in honor of the Lord's greatest devotee: Lord Siva(Shivaratri).
Vegan variation: You don't have to make thandai with milk. You can use water instead, as it is often done, though the milk mellows the taste of the spices.
Take care to buy coconuts that are fresh. There should be no cracks in the shells, and they should be heavy with milk. The coconut milk should smell pleasant and taste sweet. If it smells oily and tastes sour, the coconut will sour. Coconut chutney goes well with dosas, and can be used as dip for savories such as doklas, pakoras, and gajar vadas.
Known as "lady fingers" in India, okra is widely used in Creole cooking and is a popular soul food in America. If you can't find okra in supermarkets, look for it at Asian grocers. Choose pods that are small, firm, tender, and bright green.
The trick for cooking okra is to fry it until it looses that 'slimy' texture that turns so many people against any dish with okra in it.
This recipe is traditionally served with wedges of firm tomato and hot bhaturas. If you like, you can serve it with flatbreads breads and rice, or as a breakfast with yogurt and ginger tea.
Butternut gives this kitchari some sweet creaminess, almost like you have added some sweet cream butter, and is the perfect complement to the slight bitterness of the greens. This recipe is great for kids (or adults) who are not fond of seedy spices in their meal. My daughter loves this kitchari and I love that she is eating healthy whole grains and vegetables.