Bhindi masala gravy is a delicious North Indian dish made with okra simmered in a spiced onion-tomato gravy! Learn how to make restaurant-style bhindi masala at home in this step-by-step photo and video tutorial.
If you are an okra fan, you are going to love this Indian okra curry. If you have not tried okra before, this easy bhindi masala gravy recipe will definitely be the one you would want to try.
Bhindi is undoubtedly one of the most common vegetables used in Indian cooking. There are a number of bhindi recipes that have different flavor quotients and they all taste amazing. Be it a simple bhindi sabzi, a dry version of this recipe, bhindi kadhi, aloo bhindi, bhindi kurkuri, bindi salan or dahi bhindi.
Table of Contents
What is Bhindi Masala?
I doubt this dish needs any introduction. But if you have not heard of this dish let me familiarize you with it. Bhindi masala is a North Indian style of preparing okra.
Okra is known as bhindi in Hindi and masala in this context refers to the typical Punjabi, spiced onion-tomato base flavored with spices and fresh and dried herbs. The masala base can also be used to make other dishes like aloo baingan, aloo gobhi, mushroom masala, etc.
Here, okra is cooked in a spicy, and slightly tangy semi-thick curry. This okra curry recipe is packed with flavors that will definitely tantalize your taste buds! I’m sure you will be making it often once you try this recipe!
Most folks normally make a semi-dry version of this recipe. But the recipe I’m sharing with you is more of a restaurant-style preparation. We enjoyed this gravy from a restaurant once, and since then it’s been a favorite. I’ve tried to replicate the flavors and pretty much managed to nail the recipe.
If you love okra as much as I do, I’m sure you will love this restaurant-style bhindi masala recipe too. So next time you get some okra, give this recipe a go!
Why should you try this recipe?
☑ This is a tried and tested recipe that’s been popular on the blog for a long time.
☑ If you are looking for restaurant-worthy flavors!.
☑ Besides being a delicious veggie, okra offers numerous health benefits.
☑ Can be adapted to make it vegan.
☑ It is also gluten-free.
☑ The recipe can be easily scaled for the desired number of servings (cooking time will increase a bit).
☑ Makes for a great lunch box option or perfect for weeknight dinners.
To make this delicious bhindi curry, you will need;
Okra: Okra is also known as lady’s fingers. I suggest using fresh, tender okra pods for this recipe. They tend to be more flavorful and less slimy.
Onions and tomatoes: These form the base of the gravy. I’ve used red onions which are typically used in Indian cooking. You could also use yellow, white onions, or shallots. As for the tomatoes, make sure you use, ripe and pulpy tomatoes.
Green chilies: I’ve used a mild variety of chilies.
Ginger and garlic: I’ve used homemade coarsely crushed ginger and garlic which adds a better flavor. You can also use the store-bought paste if you are pressed for time.
Basic Indian spices: These include cumin seeds, ground turmeric, Kashmiri red chili powder, cumin, coriander, kasuri methi, and garam masala, along with salt.
Dahi or Yogurt: Adds a light, creamy texture and a subtle tang.
Cooking fat: I’ve used sunflower oil for this recipe. But feel free to use your preferred oil.
Coriander leaves: Adds a fresh element to the gravy.
How to make Punjabi bhindi masala gravy – Step-by-step instructions
Step 1: Prepare okra
Wash and pat dry 250 grams of okra with a kitchen napkin (It should be completely dry). Cut off the crown and tip, and cut the okra into 1 to 2-inch pieces depending on how you like them. Be sure to check for worms inside the pods, discard the pods if you find any. (Photos 1 to 4)
Step 2: Saute the okra
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Shallow fry the okra, stirring occasionally, until they shrink, develop color around the edges, and are about 80% cooked. (Photos 5 to 8)
Add salt and mix well. Transfer the bhindi to another bowl and set it aside. (Photos 9 to 11)
Step 3: Punjabi onion-tomato base
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan/kadai over medium heat. (Photo 12)
Once the oil has heated, add 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, and allow it to splutter. (Photo 13)
Next, add 1 cup of finely chopped onions and sauté until golden brown. (Photos 14 to 16)
Add 2 teaspoons of coarsely crushed ginger-garlic paste and 2-3 slit or finely chopped green chilies, and sauté until the ginger-garlic is fragrant. (Photos 17 to 20)
Add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 2 teaspoons of coriander powder, 1 teaspoon of Kashmiri red chilli powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of roasted cumin powder. Sauté over medium heat for another minute. (Photos 21 to 26)
Add a splash of water if needed to prevent the spices from burning.
Add 3/4 cup of tomato puree and mix well. (Photos 27 and 28)
Cover the pan and cook on medium heat for 1-2 minutes. (Photo 29)
Remove the lid and sauté until it the oil separates. (Photos 30 to 32)
Switch off the heat, and add 1/4 cup whisked dahi/yogurt. Mix it well. (Photos 33 to 35)
Switch on the heat, cover, and cook on low heat for 1-2 minutes. (Photo 36)
When you remove the lid you will notice specks of oil on top of the masala. (Photos 37)
Continue cooking, until oil separates from the sides. (Photos 38 and 39)
Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup water (adjust as per desired consistency), mix it well, and let the gravy come to a boil. (Photos 40 to 42)
Season the gravy with salt and mix well. Add salt accordingly as salt is also added to the bhindi in the 2nd step. (Photos 43 and 44)
Step 4: Add fried okra to the gravy
Add the fried okra, and mix well, simmer on low heat, covered, for 2-3 minutes or longer depending on your desired doneness. (Photos 45 to 48)
Give everything a gentle mix and add 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala, 1/2 teaspoon of crushed kasuri methi, and 2-3 tablespoons of finely chopped coriander leaves. (Photos 49 to 52)
Mix well and cook on medium-low heat for a few more seconds. (Photos 53 to 54)
Check for seasonings, and adjust salt if required. If it is too tangy, add a pinch of sugar. If you prefer a more tangy flavor, squeeze lime juice.
Bhindi masala paired with rice and dal is pure comfort food! You can savor this delicious bhindi masala gravy with chapati, roti, naan, paratha, poori, or any other flatbread.
You can also pair it with some jeera rice, brown rice, or plain steamed rice.
Consider making it a part of a thali by serving it along with rice, dal, flatbread of choice, yogurt or raita, salad, pickle, and some dessert. Wash it all down with a big glass of chaas (spiced buttermilk)! A good nap after this meal is guaranteed 😀
This recipe makes a small batch enough to serve 2 to 3 people as a main dish or 3 to 4 people if serving as a side dish or as a part of a thali. So having leftovers is highly unlikely. However if you double the batch, and end up with leftovers, refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Reheat over the stovetop or in the microwave until thoroughly heated through. Add a splash of water if needed as this gravy thickens as it sits.
Here are a few of my tips to help you make the BEST bhindi masala recipe!
Okra: Since okra is the hero of this recipe, be sure to use fresh, small tender okra pods. Look out for pods that are about 3 to 4-inches long and have smooth, bright green skin, free of any bruises or blemishes. The tail of the pods should snap easily and not bend, that’s an easy way to gauge if they are fresh. The larger pods tend to be tough and fibrous and are best used in stews, gumbo, etc.
A good quality pan: Use a good quality pan, nonstick, or cast iron to prevent the bhindi from sticking at the bottom of the pan.
Avoid cooking okra on high heat: Cooking on high heat will brown the exterior of the okra pods quickly. This will not help in getting rid of the sliminess which is the primary reason for this extra step. Also, avoid stirring the okra too frequently, as that can make the okra slimy.
Do not cover the pan: Avoid covering the pan while sauteing the bhindi initially as it retains steam and increases moisture which in turn will make the bhindi slimy.
Cooking oil: You can replace the vegetable oil with mustard oil for authentic North Indian flavor.
Do not skimp on the oil: You will need the quantity of oil specified to saute the bhindi. Sauteing helps reduce the sliminess, so do not try to cut back on the oil in this step. You can cut back on the oil in the gravy preparation to cut back on calories. You may also air fry or roast the okra in the oven.
Switch off the heat when adding dahi (curd): High heat may cause the curd to split. Always turn down the heat or switch off the heat and then add the curd. Mix it well and increase the heat. Make sure you whisk the curd before adding it to the masala. Also, try and use fresh dahi as sour dahi may make the dish too tangy.
Cut back on the cooking time: You can start preparing the gravy while sauteing the bhindi simultaneously. It will reduce your overall cooking time to quite an extent.
Dry version: For the dry version, skip the yogurt and water. After the onion-tomato base seasoned with spices is ready, simply add the sauteed okra and toss it around. You may add about 1/2 teaspoon of amchur powder here along with the other spices or finish off the dish with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Add potatoes: After frying the bhindi, shallow fry about 1.5 to 2 cups of diced potato. Cook until golden brown and almost cooked through. Set aside and add it to the gravy along with the bhindi. Increase the water to adjust the consistency of the gravy if needed or skip the water and make a dry aloo bhindi version.
No-onion and garlic version: For a Jain version, follow the recipe as such, simply skip the onion and garlic. Add 1/4 teaspoon hing (asafoetida) along with the cumin.
Spices: Feel free to customize the quantities of spices and herbs as per your desired flavor. If you prefer more heat, add 1 teaspoon of red chili powder along with the Kashmiri chili powder. You can also use the dark green spicy green chilies instead of the light ones.
A richer gravy: For a creamy, rich variation, add 1/4 cup of cashew paste after you add the yogurt. You can also add 2 tablespoons of fresh cream or heavy cream at the end.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
How do you cook okra without it being slimy?
The sliminess or gummy, gel-like substance in okra is known as mucilage which contains soluble fibers.
Follow these steps to the T to avoid the problem of sliminess so that you can enjoy this healthy vegetable more often!
- First and foremost, wash the okra pods very well and drain the water completely.
- Then pat dry the pods thoroughly with a clean kitchen napkin or paper towel. I mean really well, they should be completely dry. You can lay them on a tray lined with paper towels and allow them to air dry for some time or overnight. This could save some of your time if you plan in advance.
- Next, time to chop the bhindi! Use a dry cutting board and a dry, sharp knife. Also, make sure that your hands are completely dry.
- It is not unusual to notice that the knife gets sticky while chopping the okra. Simply wipe the knife with a paper towel and continue chopping the rest of the pods.
- For a recipe like this, it is best to saute the okra in oil separately over medium-low heat before adding it to the dish. Sauteing in cooking fat of any sort will reduce the sliminess to a great extent.
- Add salt towards the end to avoid slimy okra. If you add salt to the okra initially, it will release moisture.
- Make sure you cook okra uncovered while sauteing it. Covering the pan will retain the steam, and as you know by now moisture needs to be avoided at all stages while handling this vegetable.
- Souring agents like amchur powder, lime or lemon juice, yogurt, kokum, tamarind, etc added while cooking also helps in reducing the slime.
Can I use frozen okra for this recipe?
This recipe is best made with fresh okra. For frozen okra, thaw them first and then spread them out on a tray lined with paper towels or a clean kitchen napkin. Pat dry until most of the moisture is gone. You will need additional 2-3 minutes to help crisp up the okra.
Is this dish spicy?
This recipe is not spicy at all. I’ve used light green chilies which are very mild. Moreover, I’ve used Kashmiri chili powder, which adds a vibrant red color without the heat.
This bhindi masala gravy recipe was first published on Sep 18, 2018, and has been updated on July 1, 2022, to include new images, a video tutorial, and additional information. The recipe has been modified slightly, here are the changes;
- I’ve skipped adding amchur powder (dry mango powder) this time and left it as an optional ingredient. This recipe was developed using finely diced Roma tomatoes and US yogurt which is more creamy than tart. Hence a little bit of amchur powder was added for the tangy flavor. Indian tomatoes and dahi provide the right tartness to this dish that is well balanced with the spices. Hence, no need for an additional souring agent.
- Replaced the chopped tomatoes with tomato puree.
Here are some more North Indian dishes that you may enjoy
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Bhindi Masala Gravy Recipe
Measuring cup used, 1 Cup = 250 ml, 1 tsp = 5 ml
- 3 to 4 tablespoons oil, divided
- 250 grams Okra/bhindi
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 cup finely chopped onion, approx 135 grams
- 2 teaspoons coarsely crushed ginger garlic paste, 4 garlic cloves and 1 inch ginger
- 2-3 green chillies (mild or spicy), slit lengthwise or finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder
- 3/4 cup tomato puree made by blending 200 grams tomatoes
- 1/4 cup yogurt, regular dairy if not vegan or your favorite non-dairy yogurt
- Salt, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed kasoori methi
- 1/2 teaspoon amchur powder/Juice of half a lime, optional, if you prefer more tangy flavor
- 2-3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
- Wash and pat dry okra with a kitchen napkin (It should be completely dry). Cut off the crown and tip, and cut the okra into 1 to 2-inch pieces depending on how you like them. Be sure to check for worms inside the pods, discard the pods if you find any.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Shallow fry the okra, stirring occasionally, until they shrink, develop color around the edges, and are about 80% cooked.
- Add salt and mix well. Transfer the bhindi to another bowl and set it aside.
- Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan/kadai over medium heat.
- Once the oil has heated, add cumin seeds, and allow it to splutter.
- Next, add finely chopped onions and sauté until golden brown.
- Add ginger-garlic paste and finely chopped green chilies, and sauté until the ginger-garlic is fragrant.
- Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder, and roasted cumin powder. Sauté over medium heat for another minute.
- Add a splash of water if needed to prevent the spices from burning.
- Add tomato puree and mix well. Cover the pan and cook on medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Remove the lid and sauté until it the oil separates.
- Switch off the heat and add whisked dahi/yogurt. Mix it well
- Switch on the heat, cover, and cook on low heat for 1-2 minutes.
- When you remove the lid you will notice specks of oil on top of the masala. (
- Continue cooking, until oil separates from the sides.
- Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup water (adjust as per desired consistency), mix it well, and let the gravy come to a boil.
- Season the gravy with salt and mix well. Add salt accordingly as salt is also added to the bhindi.
- Add the fried okra, and mix well, simmer on low heat, covered, for 2-3 minutes or longer depending on your desired doneness.
- Give everything a gentle mix and add garam masala, crushed kasuri methi, and finely chopped coriander leaves. Mix well and cook on medium-low heat for a few more seconds.
- Check for seasonings, and adjust salt if required. If it is too tangy, add a pinch of sugar. If you prefer a more tangy flavor, squeeze lime juice. Serve hot!