Okra. Aka bhindi, ladyfingers, gumbo or Hibiscus Esculentus. Whatever you choose to call these little pods, it’s hard to convince haters to give the stuff another chance. I loved okra from the first time I tried it, but that’s no doubt because it was treated just right. Well, for my tastes. Like many, I don’t appreciate the slime development from the mucilage in the pod walls — which true devotees do — and which comes from long cooking in the presence of liquid.

My first okra meal was a bhindi masala from the mighty Bismillah in Fordsburg. Pods sliced and spiced, fried lightning-fast and very hot; it’s still one of my favourite dishes in town. When okra is cooked this way, the mucilage doesn’t get either the time or hydration to develop the characteristic gloop, which when in full swing is not unlike the glistening skeins stretching between those infamous monster jaws in Aliens. In fact, these effects are often courtesy of plant cellulose, so not surprising really.

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