Dr. Padma Garvey

The plant-based Doctor Mom 

When my husband and I got married, making dinner was initially a challenge for me.  He liked Indian food and liked very spicy food, so that was not an issue.  He had a very limited exposure to vegetables, though.  There were many vegetables he had never heard of or tasted at all.  If you want to eat a plant-based diet, then you must eat a VARIETY of food.  Frankly, this is something everybody should do.  It astonishes me that in a country that consumes so much meat and has such a problem with obesity, so many patients have vitamin deficiencies. 

One of my favorite dishes as a kid was okra curry.  When I suggested this to my husband, he made a face and said he had never had okra.  Now to the uninitiated, okra can be unappealing because it is slimy on the inside.  The trick is to cook it until it is nice and crispy.  The slimy stuff on the inside evaporates and the okra has a yummy, crunchy taste.  I should add that this okra curry is one of my husband’s favorites now.  Typically the okra curry is eaten with brown rice as the first course.  A traditional second course would be the Indian tomato soup or the tomato and lentils.


Thoroughly rinse and pat dry about thirty to forty okra fingers.

Cut off the end that had been attached to the plant and discard.  The remainder of the okra should be cut cross-sectional into pieces that are as thick as two stacked nickels. 

Traditionally this dish requires a LOT of oil.  In order to minimize the amount of oil, place the cut okra on a large baking tray.  On convection heat set at 400 degrees, let the okra roast for about 20 minutes.  This will allow the moisture in the okra to evaporate.  Then set aside on your counter top.

In a large nonstick skillet, add one teaspoon of oil and heat to medium.  The best oil to use is grape seed oil.  When the oil is hot, add ½ tablespoon of cumin seeds.  When the seeds start to sizzle, add the okra and toss well so the pieces are coated with the oil.  Add ½ teaspoon of salt and toss well.  Cook the okra uncovered and toss periodically so all the pieces get nice and crispy.  You will have to cook the okra for at least twenty to thirty minutes to achieve this.  When the okra has crisped nicely, remove from heat.  Add ½ teaspoon or more (depending on your preference) of chili powder.  Toss well. 

Serve over bed of brown rice or millet