What a way to start 2020 – Delighted to hear that My Bangladesh Kitchen was awarded Best Asian Book in the UK at the prestigious Gourmand International Cookbook Awards.
To celebrate: here is one of my favourite, and quintessentially Bangladeshi, recipes. Shorsher darrosh ar aloo, otherwise known as mustard okra with potatoes.
Okra is a really popular vegetable in Bangladesh and it makes a good vegetarian main course as well as a side dish. The use of mustard is very common in Bangladeshi cuisine and adds an interesting piquancy to the dish. Traditionally you would grind whole mustard seeds with salt and water to make the paste, but nowadays I find it a lot quicker (and easier on my nasal passages) to use a ready-made whole-grain mustard instead. I like to cook this dish in a mixture of mustard oil and vegetable oil for extra mustard sharpness, but plain vegetable oil will also work.
175g / 6oz okra, fresh or frozen
200g / 7oz new (waxy) potatoes such as Charlotte
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp mustard oil
1 small onion, sliced finely
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 green chillies (chiles), cut in half lengthways
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp whole-grain mustard
1 tsp salt
250 ml / 8fl oz / 1 cup water
First prepare the okra. If the okra are quite small they can be left whole. If they are larger than 5cm/2in then they can be sliced in half, lengthwise through the stalk end. The stalk can be retained if the vegetables are quite young and tender.
The potatoes should be washed but not peeled and sliced into long wedges no thicker than 2cm/1in. Keep them in a bowl of cold water whist preparing them to avoid any discolouration.
Take a sauté-pan or wok and place it on a medium-high heat. Add both the oils to the pan and when the oil is hot add in the onion, garlic and chillies (chiles). Fry them for 5-6 minutes until the onion is turning brown at the edges and the garlic is golden in colour.
Add the turmeric, cumin, chilli powder, salt and mustard paste and stir together well. Then add in the cup of water and continue to cook and stir over a medium-high heat until the mixture is bubbling well. Add the potatoes and okra and stir well to combine. Wait until the pan is back up to temperature and bubbling nicely. Then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover the pan with a well-fitting lid.
Cook the vegetables like this for around 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the okra and potato are softened and cooked through. If the vegetables are catching on the bottom of the pan during cooking, you can add a small amount of hot water from the kettle, but only do this if you really need to as it will dilute the flavours in the pan.
Once the vegetables are cooked and the sauce has thickened the dish is ready to serve. This can be served as a side dish or on its own with either rice or with any Indian bread. Enjoy .