Okra & Kokum Stir-fry

Recipe 10 minPreparation Time 12 minCooking Time
Okra & Kokum Stir-fry

Okra & Kokum Stir-fry

10 minPreparation Time 12 min Cooking Time

About this Recipe

This Goan stir-fry recipe uses locally grown okra, or bhindi. These are greenish-yellow in color and longer in length than the common deep-green okra; however, either can be used to make this dish. The star of the recipe is kokum, a souring agent found in Goan and Maharashtrian kitchens. Kokum is the dried peels of the plump juicy fruit from the Garcinia indica tree, part of the mangosteen family. The crunchy okra coated with miso-like umami from the kokum makes this a good vegetarian dish.

The Benefits

Both okra and kokum are rich in vitamins A and C, folic acid, and antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Studies suggest that the dietary fiber in okra can lower blood sugar. Kokum is a storehouse of bioactive compounds such as anthocyanin and garcinol, both powerful antioxidants and hydroxyl citric acid (HCA), a natural appetite suppressant.

Note: Kokum is available online and at Indian markets. The kokum used in Goan cuisine look like individual petals that are deep purple, slightly curled around the edges. Make sure the okra is wiped clean and dry before you cut the vegetable. This will help ensure that the stir fry does not get sticky.


Serves 2 to 3
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 green chiles, slit in half
  • 1/2-inch (12 mm) piece ginger, chopped
  • 15 okra, trimmed and cut in half or quartered
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tomato, de-seeded and chopped
  • 6 or 7 (9 g) kokum pieces
  • 1/2 cup (30 g) freshly grated coconut, divided


  1. Step 1
    In a nonstick skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds. Let them splutter. Then add the garlic, chiles, and ginger. Let this sauté for a minute. Add the okra; make sure this is fried well, for 2 or 3 minutes, so that it doesn’t get sticky. Okra is notorious for its slimy texture if not handled properly. Do not burn the okra, just let it dry out a bit.
  2. Step 2
    At this stage, add the chopped onion and stir lightly for 2 minutes. When the onions get translucent and are on the cusp of turning brown at the edges, add the salt and turmeric. Give it all a good stir. The okra should be well cooked by now. Add the chopped tomato and stir. After a couple of minutes, add the kokum and half (1/4 cup/15 g) of the freshly grated coconut. Mix it well. Let this cook for a minute, to let the flavors come together. The dish is now ready and can be topped with a garnish of the remaining 1/4 cup (15 g) grated coconut.

Level up: To make this dish into a runny curry, don’t fry the okra too much and add a cup of water to the pan after you add the kokum. Let it simmer for 5 minutes, to let the okra get soft. Skip the step of adding fresh coconut.

Try it with: This dry stir fry goes well with chapatis. The runny version can be had with rice.

Substitutions: If you are running low on kokum, you can add more tomatoes to heighten the sour notes. Tamarind paste also can be used. Dried red chiles can be added to the hot oil, along with the ginger and garlic to give it more pungency.