Bandakka (Sri Lankan Okra Curry)
In India they call it Bindi, in Surinam they call it Oker, from Greece to Turkey to Arabic speaking places they call it Bamya, in the European Mediterrean they say Gombo and in English you might find it being called Okra, Okro, Ochro, or Ladies’ fingers. This recipe for Okra curry is called Bandakka, because that’s what they call this slimy yet strangely delicious green vegetable in Sri Lanka.
Bandaka: the Sri Lankan recipe for Okra Curry
And today, on our mission to collect local recipes that are vegan by default, we want to show how the Sri Lankans like to prepare the – in my humble opinion – world’s most undervalued green.
Yes, it feels a bit strange on your tongue. Yes, it becomes a bit slimy. And chances are you haven’t seen it before. But chances are also it is sold in your city without you knowing. But trust me: whatever way I prepare Okra, Jolanda never leaves me with any leftovers. I wish I could say the same for bell peppers, which she finds the most overrated vegetable in the world, but that’s a different story.
Preparing this Sri Lankan recipe for Okra Curry is easy and not time consuming at all. Not into the sliminess? Simply cook your curry a bit longer to get rid of it.
How Sri Lankans eat their Bandakka
With their right hand, of course. Because in Sri Lanka they eat everything with their right hand! I’ve lived in Sri Lanka for a couple of months right after I finished my studies, and personally I enjoy eating with my hands as it makes you eat slower and more consciously.
But of course: that’s not really what I mean by ‘how the Sri Lankans’ eat Bandakka. Sri Lankan rice and curry usually consists of a number of curries and finding the balance between them really spices it up.
As the traditional recipe for Okra Curry isn’t spicy at all (the one green chili is not to add spiciness but to enhance the flavors), it is eaten with at least one other curry that is spicy, so if you want to go full Sri Lankan and serve more curries, we suggest you have a look at Polos, a Sri Lankan spicy jackfruit curry that is also traditionally vegan.
What makes this recipe for Okra Curry so Sri Lankan?
Different grandmas, different recipes. True. But the mustard seeds and the pinch of cinnamon make this curry stand out as a Sri Lankan one.
For 4 servings as a side dish, and 2 servings as a main dish (serve with rice)
- 4 handfuls of Okra, washed and cut into inches
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped up
- 1 green chili, chopped up
- 1 big teaspoon of mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of cumin
- A pinch of turmeric
- A pinch of cinnamon
- ½ lime squeezed out
How to make Bandakka
Prep: 5 min. | Cook: 15 min. | Total: 20 min.
- Soak the okra water while you cut the other ingredients.
- Slice the small onion, and chop up the garlic and the green chili.
- Wash and rinse the okra. Remove the end of the stems of the okra and cut in inches.
- Heat up 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a saucepan or wok. Add the mustard seeds.
- When the mustard seeds start popping, add the other spices and stir for 20 seconds.
- Add the chopped up garlic and green chili and stir for another 30 seconds.
- Add the onion while you keep stirring.
- When the onion is translucent, add the okra while you keep on stirring. After a minute or so, add the juice of half a lime.
- Stir fry for 10-15 minutes (or if you want to cook out the sliminess: as long as it takes).
Country: Sri Lanka
Prep: 5 min.
Cook: 15 min.
Total: 20 min.
Ingredients: Okra, onion, garlic, green chili, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, mustard seeds, lime
Type of meal: side dish, main dish