Saturday, July 20, 2013

Indian Okra with Tomatoes and Fresh Turmeric

I value foods most that have intrinsic healing properties and luckily for me, so many foods are really good medicine.  I have been undergoing a lot of emotional stress lately taking care of my Mom and needed to find ways to calm myself down, physically and emotionally.  I went shopping at the closest Whole Foods and found some fresh turmeric.  Now this is a very powerful anti-inflammatory food and in Chinese Medicine is used to invigorate the blood and treat pain and other heat based problems. The fresh turmeric was a big surprise - I've only previously had it dried and powdered.  It had a wonderful taste that was like gingery carrots. It required peeling and be careful because the yellow color stains things! I cooked it with okra, tomatoes, onion and garlic and together created a wonderful dish that I will be sure to make again. I found out later that it is similar to an Indian dish called Bindhi Masala, although it usually includes Garam Masala. I was so happy with the flavor of the turmeric that shone through.  Served with buttered Basmati rice and fish, it was a very satisfying meal!

Indian Okra with Tomatoes and Turmeric

1/2 pound Okra, stem and tips cut off and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
5 Roma Tomatoes, stem end removed and diced
3 Tablespoons Ghee (or butter)
1 medium yellow onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 turmeric roots, skin scraped off with a spoon and chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth (or use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian)
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes or 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional:  1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala

Heat ghee in a large frying pan until melted.  Add in the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent.  Add in the turmeric and tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes break down into the beginnings of a sauce. Then add in the okra, chili flakes (or Cayenne Pepper) and the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Five Element Analysis

Okra combines both the Wood and Earth Elements - Wood because it grows so fast on a vining plant and Earth because of its' mucilaginous properties. The chicken broth adds additional Wood and the turmeric adds more Earth. So, those elements are fully covered.  The tomatoes bring in the Fire Element along with the Chili and the garlic and onions contribute the  Metal Element.  Only the Water Element is missing so be sure to add that in another dish, like the fish I served it with or an eggplant dish.

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