Before we get going on this delicious snack and great addition to any fermentista’s arsenal, I think it is important that we know a little background of this provocative and alluring beauty.
Okra (also know as Lady’s Finger’s) is a member of the Mallow family. It is related to cotton, hibiscus, jute, and hollyhock. Who knew right?! It can grow up to six ft. tall and has yellow hibiscus like flowers!
Okra is a tropical plant brought to the U.S. in the 1700’s by slaves from West Africa. It quickly gained popularity in Louisiana by Creoles who were taught by the slaves to use the okra pods with its mucilaginous juice to thicken soups and other traditional foods such as Gumbo. Okra has since taken off and gained respect as a vegetable in the U.S., aside from being used as a thickening agent.
Now that you have a little background info on okra, how about we get a way from Creole cooking and take an Indian twist with this great recipe for Lacto-fermented curried okra!
What you will need:
- 1 lb whole okra Pods ( When picking them out, make sure they are bright green, there are no black spots, and that they are no longer than 2 to 3 inches long. When they get bigger they take on a fibrous woody nature.)
- 1/2 red onion cut into wedges
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 4 or so dried tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 gallon brine: 1 gallon unchlorinated water mixed with 1/2 cup seasalt ( You will not need a whole gallon but I like to have it around so I can top off the ferment once things get bubbling!)
- 1 to 2 grape leaves per jar of Curried Okra. ( Grape leaves have tannins and help keep Fermentables crisp.)
As you would want to do with all vegetables, make sure to rinse and pat dry all of the okra. Cut off the stem of each pod, making sure to leave just enough stem to keep each pod closed at the end. Then add coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorn, and garlic cloves to the bottom of each jar.
Arrange okra, dried tomatoes and onion on top.
Mix curry powder into a separate jar of brine. I like to keep an extra jar on hand just for mixing the curry powder in. If you don’t mix it into the brine and shake it up first it will clump into your fermenting jars.
After you have mixed the curry powder and brine, pour it over your okra filling it to the top. (make sure all vegetables are submerged)
Add 1 to 2 grape leaves at the top of the jar. I like to tuck them down and around the sides of the okra to help keep them under the brine.
Screw on your top with the airlock . If you do not have an airlock loosely cover the lid. Set on a cookie tray and set a side in a cool dark place. (Check every day and top off brine as needed.)
As the fermentation process starts you will notice that the okra will start to loose its color. It will become a dull green muted color. The brine will become cloudy. This is a good sign that flavors are mingling and the microbes are doing their job. Start tasting your product at this point. The longer you ferment the more pickle-y they will become.
When they are fermented to your liking top each jar off with extra brine and store in fridge. They will keep refrigerated up to 6 months!
How to serve:
There are many ways to serve this wonderful dish. I love to plate it alongside cheeses, charcuterie, and fresh sourdough bread. Another way to serve this is over braised lamb on a bed of herbed rice. To add intensity, we add a portion of the brine (just enough to flavor) to the rice while cooking it!
Thank you for taking the time to ferment with us! After all, these things take time and they are certainly well worth it! Please feel free to respond with any questions or comments to Derek.firstname.lastname@example.org