Okra is technically a fruit but is used as a vegetable. It is known for its texture, which can be slimy but doesn’t have to be. Its flavor is mild and grassy. You can enhance okra by adding spices to it, but you will need the right ones. Some of the best spices for okra are:
One of the universal spices, garlic is a member of the Allium family that shows up in savory dishes everywhere on Earth. It is versatile and can be used with most meats as well as with savory produce like okra. It offers a pungent and sulfurous earthiness that enhances okra’s savory properties.
If your problem with okra is that its subtle grassiness isn’t intense enough for you, garlic is a great way to boost the flavor. You will see fresh garlic used in the southern favorite stewed okra with tomatoes, and you can use garlic powder in the breading used to coat deep-fried okra.
Another popular Allium, onions come in many sizes and shapes as well as flavor levels. All of them work well with savory vegetables like okra. When raw, onions have an intensely herbaceous and astringent flavor that mellows to sweet nuttiness when they are thoroughly cooked. Both aspects of the onion’s flavor profile can enhance okra by giving it a taste that is simultaneously bright and savory.
Like garlic, onions show up in recipes for traditional Southern American stewed okra and tomatoes. You will also see onions in what is arguably the most popular way for Indians to cook okra: bhindi masala. Bhindi masala is similar to stewed okra and tomatoes. Dried and powdered onion is an important ingredient in the breading for deep-fried okra.
A blend of dry seasonings popular in Louisiana, creole seasoning is the product of various cooking traditions, including those of slave cooks as well as some imported by immigrants from Europe. Typical ingredients in creole seasoning include paprika, garlic, and thyme. Some blends may also include bay leaf and basil. Some versions of Creole seasoning are spicy and may have sources of heat, such as cayenne pepper.
You can add creole seasoning to stewed okra and tomatoes or the breading for deep-fried okra. You can also sprinkle it onto the finished dishes at the table.
The addition to acidity is one of the best ways to make okra less slimy, which is why pickled okra is among the more popular dishes that feature the pods.
The preferred vinegar for pickling any vegetable (including okra) is white vinegar. Not only does it give the okra a bright tartness, but it is also acidic enough to ensure that the okra is pickled safely and reduces the risk of foodborne illness. The clean tartness of white vinegar does not muddle the flavors of the pickling spices or the okra but ensures that the pods stay crunchy.
Amchur is another name for mango powder. This Indian spice is made from green mangos that have been dried and powdered to produce a spice that is used in a range of traditional Indian dishes that includes chutneys and the okra dish bhindi masala. Mango powder is strongly acidic, which helps to reduce the sliminess of okra in much the same way that white vinegar does.