The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Curried Okra-Eggplant Stew with Basil and Coconut Milk

July 23rd, 2010 · 8 Comments · Posted in garden, Recipes

It's that time of year again: okra

It's that time of year again: okra

The first okra is here!

If you couldn’t tell from the heat, the first okra from the garden is a sure sign that summer is in full swing. Okra loves the heat and humidity here in the District of Columbia, so we have to love okra right back. It is happy to make pods for us like crazy. We will be challenged the next few weeks to keep up. It grows so fast, there are times we are harvesting pods twice a day. When we can’t eat it all, we make our favorite spicy okra pickles. Sometimes we freeze it.

Often this time of year dinner is an improvisation using whatever happens to be ripe in the garden. Some of our best dishes are pure inventions from ingredients that just fell into our laps. We are having great success with eggplant this year. The plants love our compost and they’re heavy with fruit. Watching the eggplant swell day after day, I’ve been formulating a recipe in my mind that would somehow marry eggplant and okra, two vegetables that I think were meant to be together. So treat this recipe as a rough guide and feel free to improvise on your own.

You will need an onion, a medium eggplant and about a half-pound of okra. To supplement the okra I harvested, I pulled a bag of okra from the freezer. Altogether, it was probably closer to a full pound. You’ll also need a can of coconut milk, a jalapeno pepper, diced tomatoes, curry seasoning and a big handful of basil leaves. Thai basil would be ideal, but I’m not growing any at the moment, so I used regular Italian basil. If you have coconut oil on hand, this would be a great time to use it for cooking the onion. But olive oil would work just fine.

Cut the onion into medium dice and sweat it and the jalapeno pepper, chopped fine, until soft in the bottom of a heavy pot greased with coconut oil (or extra-virgin olive oil). Add 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Season aggressively with salt to draw out the juices. Cover and cook over moderately-low heat until the eggplant is soft. Add the okra, cut on an angle into 1/2-inch slices, and a 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes with juices (or use fresh tomatoes, peeled). Cover and continue cooking until okra is soft. Stir in coconut milk, basil leaves and 1 tablespoon or more curry powder. Cook until the flavors have melded and the vegetables are just the way you like them. Adjust seasonings.

As for the heat and seasoning in this dish, you could replace the jalapeno pepper with red pepper flakes. You could also replace the curry powder with a red or green Thai curry paste. Personally, I would be anxious to see this dish with the Thai curry paste. We simply didn’t have any on hand. But even without it, the finished stew makes a gorgeous presentation. I ate it just as you see in the photograph, but it could just as easily be served over rice. It seems to call out for a side of fried plantains, I just don’t eat carbs like that any more.

For more great stories about how we are taking back our food system, read Fight Back Friday.

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  • Melodie

    Oh. My. God. That looks to die for. I love eggplant and okra. These ingredients are going on my grocery list. I invite yout o link this up to my Vegetarian Foodie Friday carnival too if you’d like. I;d love to have you!!

  • Valca

    is this love food? mel, i plan to prepare and test the omg factor. god help him – po’ thang :I

  • CynthiaR

    I just stumbled on this recipe when I googled ‘recipes with eggplant and okra’ because I had too much of each. I live in Malaysia and our organic veggie delivery has been filled with O and E for three weeks. Drowning in it! Snthis was perfect.

    My suggestion: do it with the Thai green curry paste and coconut milk! Yes, you were right! Just store-bought Thai paste and boxed coconut milk. And. Threw inne leftover chicken and beef bits off the “satay” skewers from the night before and voila.

    Thanks for this one! A definite hit.

  • Ed Bruske

    One of my all-time favorites, Cynthia. Glad you liked it.

  • phil roullard

    I had some zucchini, okra and eggplant to finish up from my CSA box. I found this recipe and made it with some leftover red curry paste with coconut milk. Put the curry over brown rice and yum! Thanks.

  • Ed Bruske

    Glad to hear it, Phil. Bon appetit!

  • Chris D

    HI Ed,
    This recipes sounds great. Our eggplant, too, are going crazy in NoVa; as are the ocra. I honestly don’t know how to harvest or use ocra. Any suggestions?
    Thank you.

  • Ed Bruske

    Chris, use the search featur, or Google. The world’s full of info on okra.