Lady Fingers Fry

(the lady fingers, with spice rub and cooking in the pan.)

Lady Fingers Fry

Finally a recipe… About a week and a half ago, I had a cooking lesson in Kochi. Jasmin, a Tamil woman, living in Kochi with her husband, Stanley, hosted the evening. Traveling off the beaten path as we’ve been doing for the past 10 days, this informative and joyful experience seems very long ago. But I’ve been meaning to write and think about it!

First off, it was a cooking DEMONSTRATION, not very much of an interactive activity. We met two funny English women the night before (we were all cooing over a cheese sandwich we found at a lovely garden restaurant – cheese sandwiches will bond some people who are on the road!) and they agreed to join me. I’m so happy they did! We were all a bit disappointed it wasn’t as participatory as we expected, but after 5 minutes and a delicious cup of chai, we settled in taking notes and observing the expert touch of Jasmin as she narrated each spice, ingredient and method she used.

Jasmin prepared 4 dishes for us plus chapatti and tea over about 2 ½ hours, all the while the two Brits, Becky and Emma, giving a ridiculous running commentary about living in Spain and trying to acquire said ingredients… They were better than the hosts of Iron Chef – all of us chatting and giggling away.

The food was a revelation – very fresh and light compared to what we’d all been eating in restaurants for our stay in India… Each dish was expertly prepared, without being overly spiced, and absolutely gorgeous and flavorful. It was a great insight on the home cooking of Kerala and a great break from restaurant food. Jasmin prepared a vegetable curry stew, chapatti, veg pulao (rice dish), raita (yogurt condiment), dosa (savory crepe) and, the standout dish – “Lady Fingers Fry.”

The Lady Fingers Fry is a sautéed stuffed ochre dish that I could have eaten the entire plate of. It was a succulent blend of sweet, savory and salty that was so interesting. And I think this method of stuffing, not with rice or breadcrumbs, but with a spice blend, is easily adaptable to other vegetables. Perhaps a small zucchini, yellow squash and really big fat green beans would also work with this method. Paired with a simple rice dish and a lassi, this would be an easy, tasty and quick meal.

(they are so liberal with the ghee here -- this morning, my chappati was served dripping in the stuff.)

(the palate of ingredients for Jasmin's Veg Pulao dish ... will post that recipe soon.)

(a classic Kerala spice combination -- cinnamon bark and cardamon)

“Lady Fingers Fry”
by Jasmin Wilson, of Kochi – ask around for Stanley Wilson (her husband who runs a tour service, and he’ll set you up with his jolly goddess of a wife)

1 tbsp coriander powder
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp garam masala powder
8 lady fingers (pieces of ochre, as we say in the States)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
To Prepare:
Mix all spices together in a small dish, set aside.

Trim lady fingers so ends are cut off, and slit the middle open, cutting about half way into each piece – you are making a canoe type of shape.

Stuff the canoes with the spices and rub spices over entire vegetable.

Heat oil on high and throw in spiced lady fingers. Cook on high approximately 2 minutes, until sides are browned. Then turn to a low heat and cook about 8 minutes longer.

Vegetables should be brown and cooked, but sill retain some of their shape. It’s okay if they get very brown.

Rotate every couple of minutes.

Serve hot!

Now, I’m dreaming about Lady Fingers Fry … and the kitchen we may find in an apartment here to cook it in! For now, we are taking crazy train rides, seeing sublime temples and moving from hotel to hotel. Next stop, Goa. I read about a flea market that happens every Wednesday in Anjuna, and now I’m determined to get us there.


  1. Lee, we are on the same page (well, opposite same pages ;) across the world from each other! I made okra the other night, but had a bit of a...well...hilarious debacle if you will! Your okra looks AMAZING, can't wait to try it. Miss you!

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