Bendakayi Huli (Okra snd Lentils Stew)

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I was introduced to the delicious world of Havyaka cuisine back in 2005, during my first trip to husband’s native place. Its a quaint little village near Mangalore, Karnataka. The smell of fresh air, the relaxed days, the fact that I could see a clear night sky everyday and most importantly the love I received from everyone I met was simply amazing!

Havyaka food is all vegetarian with tindora/little gourd, eggplant and jackfruit being favorites. I am allergic to all of them. On the first day I couldn’t eat anything. Day 2 one of my husbands cousin, Bharati, decided to treat me with my favorites. So the menu had Bendakayi(Okra) Huli, Potato curry and rice followed by freshly cut pineapple. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I am allergic(fortunately not the life threatening types, just a little tummy ache) to coconuts too. But then, I enjoyed every last bite of my meal. Thank you Benadryl!

I often get nostalgic, and since I cannot be there in person I cook some of the food instead. This one is my favorite. And with some inputs from my mother-in-law I make a variation for me, using very little coconut. Just enough to get a hint of flavor in.

Time for Prep: 20 mins     Time to Cook: 20-30 mins    Yield: 6 servings    Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb Okra, Chopped into 1 inch long pieces.
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste (or soak 1 inch chunk of Tamarind in water).
  • 1 tsp jaggery (Use brown sugar if you do not have access to jaggery).
  • 4- 5 shallots, cut in half.
  • 1/2 plum tomato, finely chopped.
  • 1/4 cup toor dal/pigeon peas, cooked and mashed.
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped

For the spice paste:

  • 1/4 cup grated coconut
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp urad dal (white lentils)
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 3-4 dried red chillies
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida

For Tempering:

  • 1 tsp ghee (or coconut oil)
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 3-4 curry leaves

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Process:

  1. Cooking the Okra:
    1. In a pan heat a tsp of oil, add the tomatoes and sauté for a 1-2 mins.
    2. Add tamarind water, jaggery and salt and bring to a boil.
    3. Add the okra and shallots, simmer till okras are soft and still firm.
  2. For the spice paste:
    1. Heat some oil in a heavy bottom pan. Add curry leaves, dried red chilli, cumin, mustard and coriander seeds.
    2. Saute till the seeds start leaving a nice aroma and the curry leaves get crisp.
    3. Turn off the heat, add asafoetida and let the spices cool.
    4. Once cool, make a smooth paste of the spices with coconut and a little bit of water.
  3. For the Huli:
    1. When the okra is cooked, add the cooked toor dal and spice paste, mix them well. Be careful not to break the okra pieces while mixing.
    2. Add 1/2 – 3/4 a cup of water and boil for a couple mins.
  4. For the tempering:
    1. Heat ghee in a small pan, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves.
    2. Saute till curry leaves are crisp. Pour on top of the prepared Huli.
  5. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Notes:

  • Other vegetables can be used instead of Okra, so get creative.
  • I use only 1 tsp of coconut and sauté it with the spice mix just before turning of the heat.
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