This isn't a traditional recipe, but something Panditji, my family’s Brahman chef, and I came up with when I was ten years old. Originally we slit the okra in half lengthwise and marinated them with chickpea flour, lemon juice, and spices. Since coming to the United States, I have streamlined the recipe and now I find it more addictive than ever. Many of my friends proclaim it to be the ideal substitute for French fries. Although I think of this as a salad, others call it a side dish. You decide.
Yield: Serves 4
1 pound okra, stemmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium or 2 small tomatoes, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1½ teaspoons chaat masala
Heat 2 inches of oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot to 350°F. Add a third of the okra and fry until browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with the remaining okra, making sure the oil temperature comes back to 350°F before frying additional batches.
In a large bowl, toss the okra with the onion, tomato, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, and chaat masala. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.