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Bharli Bhendi, Maharashtrian Stuffed Okra

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Side view of bharli bhendi on a black plate.

This Maharashtrian stuffed okra dish is one of the tastiest Indian recipes I’ve ever made. I know many people don’t like okra, but once you know how to cook the vegetable, it’s unbelievably tasty. All you have to do is try my bhindi masala, kurkuri bhindi (okra fries), or this bharli bhendi to see what I mean!

What is bharli bhendi? Bharli bhendi is a dry dish, not a curry. It’s incredibly effortless to make: you stuff a savory mixture of ground peanuts, sesame seeds, coconut, and spices into bhindi. The flavors are characteristically Marathi, with bold spicing, a slight tanginess, and plenty of nutty richness. The okra is gently fried over low heat, lending a crisp texture and fresh, full-bodied flavor. Paired with varan (plain toor dal) and scooped up with poli/chapati, it’s a meal I could eat almost every day.

The recipe name comes from two Marathi words: “bharli,” meaning “stuffed,” and “bhendi” meaning okra (sometimes called ladies’ fingers). As the name suggests, it’s all about the stuffing. It has similarities with another all-time favorite recipe, Maharashtrian bharli vangi (stuffed aubergine/eggplant).

ALSO, did I forget to mention this bharli bhendi recipe is 100% vegan and gluten-free?!

🥘 Ingredients

Are you wondering which ingredients you need for bharli bhendi? Look no further — this list covers all the herbs, spices, and other components you’ll need for the moreish stuffed okra.

If you make any of my Indian recipes regularly, you’ll already have most of these ingredients to hand. Otherwise, head to a specialist Asian grocery store or Amazon.

P.S. Am I the only one who has happy dreams about going Indian food shopping? … It seems like I truly am obsessed with food!

  • Okra is the primary ingredient. Fresh is best but frozen can work too.
  • Peanuts make up the bulk of the stuffed bhindi. I prefer pink-skinned peanuts, but any plain (not roasted or salted) are great.
  • Sesame seeds boast nutty flavors and add a subtle sweetness.
  • Coconut is sweet and nutty. You can use fresh coconut or desiccated coconut for the paste, depending on accessibility.
  • Ginger garlic paste adds a buttery and slightly punchy kick. I always use homemade ginger garlic paste for the best results.
  • Fresh coriander (cilantro in the U.S.) brings a hint of zesty brightness.
  • Ground spices such as cumin, red chili, coriander, and turmeric powder each add a unique depth to the bharli bhendi recipe.
  • Goda masala is a must for the authentic Maharashtrian flavor.
  • Lemon juice at the end lifts the whole dish.
  • Oil is essential for gently sautéeing the okra. I like to use groundnut oil (peanut) or a neutral oil such as sunflower.

🌱 Allergens

As a lifelong vegetarian, I understand the importance of dietary preferences and allergies. That’s why I make sure my recipes cover all the bases.

Luckily, this Maharashtrian bharli bhendi didn’t need any adapting for most major allergies! Bharli bhendi is vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free. It’s also alcohol-free, and suitable for most religious needs, e.g. halal and kosher.

Bharli bhendi is not nut-free. Peanuts (and sesame seeds) are integral to the flavors and textures of this stuffed okra. I recommend trying Punjabi-style bharwa bhindi instead.

Hand holding chapati with bharli bhendi and varan.

🧑‍🍳 How to Make Bharli Bhendi

This recipe for stuffed bhindi can be split into just five straightforward steps:

  1. Prep the okra by washing and drying it ahead of time.
  2. Dry roast the stuffing ingredients including peanuts, sesame seeds, and coconut.
  3. Grind the stuffing, including the dry-roasted ingredients, ground spices, and herbs.
  4. Stuff the okra by making a slit in each and pushing the stuffing inside.
  5. Fry the okra until cooked.

That’s it! All that’s left is to garnish the dish with fresh herbs. I advise familiarizing yourself with these steps ahead of cooking. There are more detailed instructions with timings in the recipe card below.

Cookware You Need

💭 Expert Tips for Stuffed Okra

Shall I let you into a secret? How you prepare okra makes ALL the difference to whether you hate the vegetable or love it. This is true of all okra recipes!

Throughout my decades-long experience cooking Indian food, I’ve made almost all the mistakes possible. So I know exactly what NOT to do and all the expert tips guaranteeing success. Here we come — restaurant-worthy bharli bhendi on the pass!

  • Choose the best okra! That’s right. These tips start right at the grocery store. In short, you’ll want to search for bright green pods without blemishes or scratches. Smaller okra is more tender. However, since we’re making stuffed okra today, reach for long, fat pods.
  • Keep your workstation dry. Ever wondered how to make okra not slimy? Moisture is the enemy. Ensure your chopping boards, knives, and pans are dry to avoid overly slimy okra.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan. You want to allow the bharli bhendi enough room to sizzle and brown.
  • Avoid stirring as the bharli bhendi is fragile. If you’re not careful, all the stuffing can fall out!
Maharashtrian bharli bhendi on a black plate. A hand is holding a piece of chapati with stuffed okra inside.

🥗 What to Serve With Bharli Bhendi

Bharli bhendi tastes fantastic served with other Maharashtrian dishes.

I nearly always serve a lentil side dish with my Indian food. Here, varan (plain toor dal, Marathi-style) is best. It doesn’t compete with the robust flavors of the bharli bhendi, yet provides a special buttery, garlicky richness. Top it with toop (ghee) if you’re not vegan.

Scoop up the bharli bhendi with poli (chapati/roti), triangular paratha, or fluffy garlic naan. You can also mix it with rice — perfect fluffy rice or jeera rice is my choice.

A tangy lemon pickle, known as limbache lonche in Marathi adds piquancy and kick to the meal.

Plus, add a green salad on the side with either methi gholana, a Maharashtrian fenugreek salad, or the quintessential Indian chopped salad, kachumber.

If you want to make a full feast or thali, consider either classic gluten-free onion bhajis, kothimbir vadi, or sabudana vada. If you REALLY want to impress, throw in a few other vegetable dishes like batata rassa and vangyache bharit.

Now that’s a spread that’s going to turn heads — and have you awarded as the number one cook in the neighborhood!

📝 This Recipe Is:

  • Authentic and traditional Maharashtrian recipe
  • Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free
  • Quick and easy
  • One of the best ways to enjoy okra!
Side view of bharli bhendi on a black plate.

Bharli Bhindi - Spicy Maharashtrian Stuffed Okra

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Maharashtrian bharli bhendi is a simple stuffed okra recipe. It's vegan and gluten-free, ready in 30 minutes, and filled with hearty spices.


  1. Prep the okra. Wash the okra and leave it to air-dry.
  2. Dry roast the stuffing ingredients. Heat a pan over medium-low heat and add the peanuts. Roast for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the skins blister and blacken. Set aside to cool.

    Next, add the sesame seeds and cook until they "pop." Remove and set aside.

    Finally, cook the coconut. If you have fresh coconut, take a piece of whole coconut and cook it over direct flame until slightly blackened. If you're using desiccated coconut, add it to the pan and roast for around 30 seconds, stirring continuously, until golden brown. Remove from the pan and turn off the heat.
  3. Grind the stuffing. Add the ingredients you dry roasted (peanuts, sesame seeds, and coconut) along with the ingredients under "stuffing" to a blender. Grind to a coarse paste.
  4. Stuff the okra. Cut the heads of the okra off and make a slit down the middle, not cooking through to the other side. Push the stuffing inside. Repeat for all the okra.
  5. Cook the bharli bhendi. Heat oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over low-medium heat. Once hot, add the stuffed okra skin-side down (stuffing facing upwards) and cook for 5-8 minutes. Gently turn and cook for another 5-8 minutes. The stuffing will become nicely browned. Finally, turn the okra one last time and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle fresh coriander, sea salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice to finish.


    * Either fresh coconut or desiccated coconut is suitable for this stuffed okra recipe.

    You can also cook the Okra in an air-fryer or even roast them in the oven if you prefer.

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    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 319Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 504mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 5gSugar: 3gProtein: 7g

    Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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