Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Vendakkai Poriyal - Okra Stir Fry and BLACK STONE POTTERY

                     I have a strange craze for earthen wares and ceramic pottery. Food cooked in earthen wares carry a distinctive taste. I once had a couple of earthen kadais, which gave a beautiful ghee flavour to any food  cooked in it. Many have even refused to eat the stir fries I made in them, as they thought they were made using ghee and they wouldn't believe me even if told them I never used any ghee at all and it's just the kadai that gave that wonderful flavour. Both the earthen wares broke a few years back and although I did invest in a few new pans they do not have that special characteristic feature of the earlier ones. The source of its origin and the nature of the earth used in the making of the earthen wares decides how it behaves when used in cooking.

                         Like all my earthen wares, I adore my current addition, "Black Stone Pottery".  When I bought these a year ago, I had no idea about the pottery, but my weakness for black earthen wares wouldn't stop me from investing in these beautiful products from Manipur and now after using it for over a year, I still would love to add a few more pieces in the future. According to the craftswomen who sold these products, these are hand made by mixing black stone and weathered rock powder with water to form a clay which is then moulded into desired shapes without using any machine and these products have been used since ancient times in their region and still used in their households in a village in Manipur, for their regular cooking, like we use our earthen ware. It's totally a natural, hand made product and the varied designs they come in is really astonishing.

A little about Black stone pottery from my experience:
They need no seasoning like other earthen wares that requires  prior soaking for days, instead they can be used right after a good wash.
All black stone pottery with a flat base can be used for cooking, while the rest are meant for storing and serving purpose, like coffee mugs and Tea pots.
Some of the black stone pots and pans are incredibly light weight like the one I own, which is totally convenient to handle and even cook, while there are pans( kadais) and stew pots ( mainly used for making stews and biriyanies)which are rather heavy.

Like all other earthen wares, food cooked in black stone wares too get better after continuous use. The first food I cooked was an Egg curry and it behaved like any other vessel and did not have any peculiar taste or smell. I cook my veg curries, fish curry, stir fries and after several use for over a year now food cooked in my black stone pan is more delicious and it has become one of my priced possessions along with my other earthen wares.
They are a little expensive than our earthen wares, but, since it is completely handmade by the tribal people, I guess it's all worth it.

Okra                           2 1/4 -1/2 cup ( chopped)
Onion                         1
Ginger garlic paste         1 good tsp
Turmeric powder           1/2 tsp
Green Chilly                  1
Dried Red Chilly            3
Oil                             1 1/2 tbsp
Mustard + Urad Dal      2 tsp
Grated Coconut            1-2 tbsp
Semolina ( Rava)          1 good tbsp (optional)
Curry leaves

Wash and drain the okras well and chop them into half inch pieces.
Chop the onion and green chilli.
Take the chopped okras in a wide plate and sprinkle semolina and mix it well to coat the vegetable with semolina evenly.
Heat oil in a pan, add the mustard + urad dal, dried red chilly and few curry leaves.
Add the chopped onion and green chilly, saute until it is pink.
Add the ginger garlic paste, give it a stir, add turmeric powder stir well and add the chopped okras.
Stir the vegetable to coat the masala and cook on low-med heat.
Stir every 3 minutes or so until cooked.
When half-done sprinkle salt and continue to cook till done.
Sprinkle grated coconut and serve with rice.

There is no need to even pat dry the okras, just follow exactly the instructions and you will get perfectly sautéed okra fry.
Use a pan that is flat and wide to fry the okras.
Use only enough okras, such that almost all the okras are touching the base of the pan.
Cook on low- med heat through out the entire cooking process and don't ever cover the pan with a lid. ( If the pan is closed, the steam will make it soggy and the vegetable will also lose its colour)
Adding a pinch or two of turmeric powder to any green vegetable will help to enhance the green colour of all vegetable stir fries. ( Like, French beans, Cluster beans, green peas and even all types of greens like spinach)
All the above mentioned vegetables can be cooked in the same manner as the okra.

I never wipe them dry. I wash them, drain them well, chop and leave it aside while I prepare the onions and other masala.

                                                   Cooked in a regular frying pan without adding coconut or semolina.

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Hiya all,
Finally on this day of october the 1st, 2012, I have decided to include the comment form, after a long gap of two years. But, I am going to be a bit selfish here and keep all those nice and lovely things that is said for me and only me to cherish and will be sharing any queries that requires clarifications and your experience about the food if you have tried my recipes. So, drop in a word if you have anything to say and thanks a lot for stopping by.
"Have a nice day"

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