The Old-Fashioned One

It’s something that you like it or you don’t, and for me to like, it has to be non slimy. I am talking about Okra, devoured by many, loved by few. If believed, the first reference to Bhindi dates back in 1126 to 1138 AD specifically in Bijapur. It was prepared till crisp and laid on curds with fresh Bijapuri fruits and seasoned with salt. The centuries old description just amazes me and I wonder, isn’t this more progressive than today? This is my representation of how it would have been, stuffed bhindi, pomegranate curd, onion rice & thecha thins.

Okra probably originated somewhere around Ethiopia, and was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians by the 12th century B.C. Grown first in Eritrea and the highlands of Sudan, bhindi is said to have travelled with the Bantu tribe who migrated from Egypt around 2000 BC. Soon it was growing along the great river valleys of India and China.

It was staple food of slaves; slaves who had been bought from various places in Africa. Many of them spoke different tongue & when they communicated with each other, it was through food, that reminded them of home, of a time when they were free. This carried the bhindi to America.

The Brits who ruled India, never liked the okra. Despite the close relations with their American colony, the British did not develop a taste for bhindi or, as they called them, lady’s fingers. The cooks serving these Brits were often forced to just use the slimy property of Bhindi as a glaze for their meat roasts.

Fact: The seeds were toasted and ground, used as a coffee substitute and still is.

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