Caribbean-Style Sautéed Okra

Caribbean-Style Sautéed Okra in bowl.
Cooking the okra in batches helps it to crisp up before it’s simmered with tomatoes and cilantro for this West Indian side dish.Ellen Silverman

Northern Indian bhindi masala—a dish of sautéed okra and tomatoes—gets a West Indian spin with the addition of Scotch bonnet chile, coconut flakes, lime juice, and cilantro. This recipe is adapted from Provisions: The Roots of Caribbean Cooking by Michelle and Suzanne Rousseau.

Equipment

Caribbean-Style Sautéed Okra
In this West Indian version of the northern Indian dish bhindi masala, okra is sautéed in batches in coconut oil with garlic, ginger, and Scotch bonnet chile, then simmered with tomatoes and cilantro. Finish with lime juice and coconut flakes for a superlative side dish. This recipe is adapted from Provisions: The Roots of Caribbean Cooking by Michelle and Suzanne Rousseau.
Yield: serves 6
Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (1 Tbsp.) and divided
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped ginger, divided
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped yellow onion (10 oz.), divided
  • ¼ cup fresh thyme leaves, divided
  • 1 Scotch bonnet chile, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped, divided
  • 1 lb. okra, sliced on the bias about ½ inch thick (4 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium plum tomatoes (12 oz.), coarsely chopped
  • ¾ cup coarsely chopped cilantro, plus more for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes, for serving

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon coconut oil. When the oil is hot, add 1½ teaspoons garlic, ½ teaspoon ginger, 1 cup onion, ¾ cup bell pepper, 2 tablespoons thyme, and half of the chile. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and translucent, 3–4 minutes. Add 2 cups okra, taking care not to crowd the pan. Increase the heat to high and continue cooking until the okra is slightly softened but still holds its shape, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and set aside at room temperature.
  2. Return the skillet to the stove and repeat the process with the remaining oil and vegetables. Once the second batch of okra has cooked for 5 minutes, return the first batch to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper, add the tomatoes and cilantro, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes soften and the mixture is heated through, 4 minutes. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have nearly broken down and most of the moisture has evaporated, about 10 minutes more (add a small amount of water, if necessary, to prevent sticking). Transfer to a serving dish and serve with a squeeze of lime, coconut flakes, and more cilantro.