Meatless Mondays: How to Make (And Shop For) Bhindi Masala

Bhindi, or okra, is the star of this curry dish.
Bhindi, or okra, is the star of this curry dish. Photo by Ewan Munro
Houston is a mosaic of cultures and its cuisine reflects that. With that in mind (and in honor of Meatless Monday), each week we’ll explore a new globally inspired vegetarian or vegan dish, and take a look at where to find its ingredients in Houston.

This week we’re heading to South Asia with bhindi masala.

Made with bhindi (a.k.a. okra or ladies’ fingers) and spices, bhindi masala is a curried dish popular in Indian cuisine. It can be prepared as a dry stir-fry mixed with curry spices or served in a spiced tomato-yogurt gravy. While you can find it at local restaurants, including Himalaya, 6652 Southwest Freeway, Kiran’s, 2925 Richmond, and London Sizzler, 6690 Southwest Freeway, it’s also something you can easily tackle making at home.

But first you’ll have to find the ingredients. Many recipes call for ingredients you may have sitting in your pantry — cumin, cayenne, cloves. Other ingredients, however, you may have to work a bit harder for — chickpea flour, amchoor (dried mango) powder, kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves).

That’s where Houston’s vast array of supermarkets and grocery stores comes in. And one of those gems is Rani's World Foods, 16711 Hollister, an Indian market just off 1960 in northwest Houston. Don’t be fooled by its meek exterior; inside, you’ll find an extensive selection of South Asian and Middle Eastern ingredients (and some Australian and British goods, too), from massive bags of jasmine and basmati rice to a tapestry of chutneys, sauces and spice blends. There is also a prepared-foods counter, featuring vegetarian specialties like samosa, curries and freshly made naan (just in case you get hungry before you head home to cook).

For an okra-and-tomato-based stir-fry, check out this recipe; and for a creamier version, try this yogurt-based curry.
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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano