Bendanso Stu (Okra Stew)
Okra (aka "lady’s finger") is stewed gently in coconut milk and basic spices — resulting in a curry that is delicately flavored. Do note that the flavor of coconut milk is very dominant here. This curry teams up very well with fried fish and white rice. I am sure it will taste great with brown (or red) boiled rice as well.
*Note: You can use either fresh coconut or coconut milk powder, although it is probably easier to use the powder.
If using fresh coconut, cut it in ½ and scoop out the flesh. Grate the flesh into the bowl of a food processor and add approximately ½ cup warm water. Pulse for 3-4 seconds and line a bowl with cheesecloth. Transfer the ground coconut to the cheesecloth, twist it into a bundle, and squeeze to extract the thick milk. Dilute with enough water to make the 2 cups thin milk. Repeat the process (on another coconut without diluting at the end) to obtain 1 cup thick milk (you may need several coconuts to extract all the milk required).
If using coconut milk powder, dissolve 6 tablespoons coconut milk powder in 1 ½ cups warm water to make the thin milk, and dissolve 6 tablespoons powder in ¾ cup warm water to make the thick milk.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
- 4 green chile peppers, slit, plus more to taste
- One 1-inch piece ginger, chopped finely
- 2 medium-sized onions, sliced thinly
- 1/2 pound (about 12-15) large okra, ends trimmed
- 2 cups thin coconut milk*
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 pinches of ground cumin (optional)
- 1 cup thick coconut milk
- Salt, to taste
- 2 teaspoons vinegar
- Steamed rice, for serving
Heat the oil or ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat and fry the chile peppers until transparent, less than 1 minute. Add the ginger and onions and fry until the onions turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the okra and fry for about 2 minutes. Add the thin coconut milk, turmeric, and cumin, if using, and cook uncovered until tender but not mushy. Season with salt, to taste.
When the okra is tender, add the thick coconut milk and bring the stew to a boil over high heat. Add the vinegar, stir, and remove from heat. Serve hot with rice.