Okra is a tropical vegetable. It is also known as Lady finger due to its pointy shape. It is widely consumed across Asia for its health benefits and culinary properties.
Lady finger is packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. It cools the body, flushes toxins out, and promotes heart health.
In this post we will learn about health benefits, nutrition, ways of consumption, and a delicious yet simple recipe. Let’s dive in!
How to cook Okra?
In India, it is popular as Bhindi (Hindi) or Lady Finger (English). You can add it to stir-fry, salads, pickle it, put in soups and stews, fry it, or consume in dried form.
All the parts of the lady finger plant, including the flowers, pods, fruits, and leaves are edible. However, it is the immature fruits, which are consumed most often as a vegetable.
Okra is heavy to digest. Therefore, it is better to consume it for breakfast or for lunch. Avoid making okra for dinner.
Cooking Tip: To prevent mucilage (slimy fluid) from okra, add a small amount of dry mango powder or squeeze a lime (towards the end) when cooking.
Okra Benefits and Uses in Ayurveda
Okra is known as Tindisha, Pitali, or Gandhamula in Sanskrit. Ayurveda specifies following properties:
- It is sweet in Rasa or taste. Also, the post digestive effect of okra is sweet. This means it helps in nourishment and growth of body tissues.
- Okra pacifies Vata Imbalance related health disorders. It supports the health of joints, skin, and hair.
- It is cooling in nature. Hence, it is good for Pitta Imbalance health issues such as high heat, acidity, and inflammation.
- Lady finger should be consumed in moderation in Kapha Imbalance. Hence, one should avoid it when suffering from cold, cough, and sinus problems.
Nutritional Profile of Lady Finger
Okra is rich in dietary fiber, proteins, and Vitamins. It has very low fat and cholesterol content.
- Fatty Acids: The seeds of lady finger are a rich source of linoleic acid. It is an essential nutrient and fatty acid for our body.
- Proteins: Okra seeds are rich source of proteins, which are also absorbed very well in our body.
- Vitamins: Lady finger is a good source of Vitamins such as Vitamin B (Riboflavin, Niacin, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, and Folate), Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K.
- Minerals: It is a very good source of Minerals like Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and Manganese. Lady finger also contains Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, and Copper in reasonable amount.
- Antioxidants: It has a high concentration of antioxidants such as bioactive phenolic compounds, catechin, and flavonoids. The antioxidants present in okra flush toxins from both water and fat cells.
- Prebiotics: The mucilage from lady finger is a rich source of polysaccharides. It acts as a prebiotic and supports healthy digestive system.
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Health Benefits of Eating Okra (Lady Finger)
Lady finger has both medicinal and therapeutic properties owing to its nutritional profile and bio-active compounds.
1. Okra supports Heart Health and Good Cholesterol
- Heart-friendly. Its mucilage, the thick and slimy fluid has the capability to bind and remove cholesterol and toxins from the blood.
- It helps to stabilize blood sugar levels due to its high fiber content, hence highly recommended for Diabetics.
2. Promotes Urinary system Health
- Okra is diuretic in nature. It supports the function of kidneys and urinary system.
- It helps to prevent inflammation and urinary disorders such as Urinary Tract Infection.
3. Anti-inflammatory and Immunity Boosting
- Okra has a rich antioxidant profile. It protects against inflammation related disorders.
- Lady finger acts as a chemopreventive agent. Therefore, it is recommended that cancer patients (who are undergoing the treatment) should include it in their diet.
- Lady finger is an excellent detoxifying food. It flushes toxins from the blood and several body parts. It supports the functioning of our excretory organs such as kidneys and liver. Learn here about liver health.
4. Supports Digestive System
- Okra boosts up metabolism, flushes toxins out, and supports movement of the food through the digestive tract.
- Regular consumption of okra helps to tone the body and lose weight.
- Prebiotics present in okra prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the gut.
- It consists of ample amount of fiber, which helps to cleanse the colon.
5. Prevents excessive bleeding and Heavy Periods
- Lady finger has high amounts of Vitamin K, which supports blood clotting.
- It is a great meal option for women suffering from heavy periods and unusual spotting in between periods.
- Lady finger is good for persons suffering from frequent nosebleed, hemorrhoids, bleeding gums, and easy bruising.
6. Supports Skin and Eye Health
- Okra contains high concentrations of beta-carotene. This makes it an excellent food for the eyes.
- It clears blood toxins and promotes circulation. Regular consumption of okra makes the skin clear, soft, and supple.
7. High Folate content – Supports Growth and Brain Function
- Lady finger has a high concentration of proteins, antioxidants, Vitamin C, and folate.
- It supports healthy pregnancy. Also, it has a nourishing effect for both mother and fetus.
- Lady finger supports brain growth, cell growth, and neural tube connection in babies.
- It supports a new mother’s digestive system as well. This helps to prevent constipation and bloating, which are common digestive problems during pregnancy and in first few months after delivery.
- Okra heals and prevents neuro degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.
Lady Finger Recipe – Indian style Bhindi stir-fry
Stir-fried Okra – Bhindi Fry with Chapati – Indian Flatbread
- Heavy Bottom Pan
- 700 g Fresh Okra
- 1 Medium Potato optional
- 2 Medium Onion
- 2 tsp Panchforan mix an equal proportional mix of 5 seeds – mustard, fennel, fenugreek, cumin, and Nigella seeds. It can be replaced with 1 tsp Mustard seeds and 1 tsp Cumin seeds.
- 3 Garlic Cloves
- 3 tbsp Mustard Oil
- 1 Green Chili Optional
- 1½ tsp Dried Mango Powder – Amchur It can replaced with 1 tbsp yogurt or 1½ pomegranate seeds powder or 1 Medium chopped tomato
- 2 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 2 tsp Coriander Seeds Powder
- 2 tsp Rock Salt To taste
- 3 sprigs Fresh coriander leaves or cilantro leaves
- 1 inch Fresh ginger root
- 1 pinch Hing – Asafetida
- 3 cups Whole wheat flour To make chapati
- 5 tsp Ghee or Olive Oil To make Chapati
Cooking the Vegetable
- Wash the Okra nicely. Keep aside in a strainer so that it becomes dry. Or tap it dry with a towel. If we cut the okra while it is wet, it becomes gooey due to its high mucilage content.
- Cut the dried okra into small pieces as shown in the picture.
- Cut the potatoes into small pieces of half inch cubes.
- Cut the onions long and thin. Finely chop or pound garlic and ginger.
- Heat a pan and put mustard oil.
- Once the oil is a little hot, add panchforan seed mix and Asafetida.
- Let the seeds splutter. Add onions, ginger, garlic and mix till they turn golden brown.
- Add salt and cut potato. Mix well and cover. Let it cook for 5 mins on low heat
- Add Okra, mix well and cover on low heat for 5 mins.
- Add turmeric, coriander powder, and salt. Mix well for few seconds.
- Add Amchur powder to remove the mucilage from the vegetable. It will also add a slightly tangy taste to the vegetable, which is delicious!
- Mix and cover for another 5 mins on low heat till the okra and potatoes are soft.
- Serve with chapati or as a side dish with rice/porridge. Enjoy
- Start kneading the dough by slowly adding water (in tablespoons) to the flour. Keep kneading the dough simultaneously.
- Once the dough is made, keep it aside and cover it for 10 mins.
- Roll the dough into small golf-ball shaped balls.
- Flatten the balls with a roller to make circular discs.
- Place the disc on a hot pan and heat it well on both sides to make hot Chapatis. Apply oil if needed.
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