Spicy Baked Okra (Lady’s Fingers)

Every Autumn I obsess over Okra (or Lady’s Fingers) – they are definitely a seasonal gem to look out for, and are an excellent food for soothing the whole digestive tract. Some people don’t get on with the slight slimy texture of Okra, but the secret is to choose smaller Okra, and remember that water is NOT your friend. Keep everything as dry as possible when preparing Okra to minimise the sliminess. I wash them and then dry each one really well with a clean tea towel before trimming. Check out the recipe for Bhindi Bhaji (Okra Masala) which has more info (and is equally delicious).

I have seen many recipes using polenta to dust okra before frying, but I found this a bit dry for baking. I remember when I was small that you used to be able to buy ‘breadcrumbs’ made from corn (maybe you can still get this), and I gave blitzed cornflakes a whirl. It works perfectly! I wanted the corn not necessarily to make it gluten-free, but for the flavour. It also helps to keep the Okra from becoming too slimey. The other tip is to choose a roasting pan that will allow the Okra to sit snugly without being piled up. A single layer will cook more evenly without the need to turn half way through. A good dose of spice is added for extra bite…and don’t forget the lemon wedges – Okra gets on really well with sharper flavours. The perfect side for golden Autumn days.

400g Okra, washed, dried and stalks trimmed
1 clove Garlic, mashed
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1 Cup Corn Flakes
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Chili Flakes (to taste)
½ tsp Ground Coriander
½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
½ tsp Salt, to taste

1 Lemon, cut into wedges to serve

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 220 C
  2. Place the Okra in a mixing bowl. Add garlic and olive oil and toss gently with hands to coat well.
  3. Place cornflakes in a processor/blender and blitz until they resemble breadcrumbs. Combine with the spices in a small bowl and then sprinkle over Okra. Toss to coat.
  4. Tip Okra onto a baking sheet or roasting pan. Sprinkle with extra breadcrumb mixture if desired.
  5. Place in centre of oven and bake until Okra is just tender and beginning to colour. Serve with lemon wedges.
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