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Okra from Deep Roots Farm in Southold. Credit: Charity Robey

Harvest is my favorite season on the North Fork, but sometimes all those ripe and ready fruits and vegetables can be overwhelming.  I shop with my eyes.

I’d heard that okra has spectacular blossoms, and Thomas Hart, the farmer at Deep Roots Farm on Main Road in Southold confirmed that they were “very pretty” and will be harvesting some even more beautiful okra for another few weeks.

So as I walked into the Deep Roots shed to take a look at the results of those pretty blooms I was sold. I wasn’t sure how I would cook it, but I had to buy it.

Did you know that if you fry okra with no coating it gets softer and browner, but not slimy? After years of stewing okra or frying it batter-covered, this discovery was a game-changer. Cooking it fast and hot in a little oil results in tender, slightly-browned morsels.  In Madhur Jaffrey’s classic book, An Invitation to India Cooking, she outlines the procedure for a Delhi-style okra. This stuff is to stewed okra as Veggie Booty is to steamed kale.

Crisp Fried Okra serves 4

1 lb. fresh young okra. If the pods are thicker or longer than the handle of a chef’s knife, pass them by. Giant okra is too tough to cook this fast.

1//2 cup canola oil

¼ cut peanut oil

½ teaspoon salt

ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon Aleppo or mild red pepper

½ tsp garam masala

  1. Wash the okra, blot it with paper towels and let it dry it completely in a strainer.
  2.  Cut off the stem end, and slice the pods in rounds of ½ inch or less.
  3. Heat 1 inch of oil in a 10-inch iron skillet over medium-low flame with a slice of okra in the pan. When it starts bubbling, the oil is ready.
  4. Add only enough okra to cover the bottom of the pan in a single layer.  It may take three or four batches. Fry each batch 4 to 5 minutes, until the okra turns crisp and a bit brown.

Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle each batch with salt, peppers, and garam masala. Serve immediately.