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Vegan Okra Curry, Indian Bhindi Masala

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Bhindi masala okra curry in a clay bowl with dal, pakora, and roti.

This bhindi masala — a dry recipe, restaurant-style — has become a weekly staple in my household. I’m not the only one obsessed with vegan okra recipes; this okra curry is one of the most popular recipes with my readers, alongside crispy okra fries and bharli bhendi!

But what is bhindi masala curry? In Hindi, “bhindi” means okra, while “masala” refers to spices — so imagine stir-fried tender (not slimy) okra cooked in oil with sweet, caramelized onions, buttery garlic, and a coating of spicy seasoning. The ingredients are shockingly basic, but it’s all you need for rock-your-socks-off flavor.

While bhindi masala enjoys a stellar reputation in South Asia, where the dish is enjoyed throughout the entirety of Pakistan and North India, here in the West people are a little more hesitant to even try the vegetable. But, let me just say: if you’re sitting on the fence about okra, this is the recipe that will change your mind.

You’ll only need 15 – 20 minutes to cook the okra curry, making it the perfect Indian side dish for curry nights or homely feasts. Plus, it’s 100% vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free. So, what are you waiting for?

Vegan okra curry in a clay bowl.

Ingredients for Bhindi Masala

All too often, Indian recipes can be intimidating because of the sheer number of ingredients involved. Surprisingly, this vegan okra curry only requires a handful of ingredients, many of which are pantry staples. I’m talking okra and a few essential spices — that’s it! Manageable, right?

Plus? This is the right place to come for a bhindi masala recipe without tomato. I love the flavor of this semi-dry okra curry without the intense, savory, and umami flavors of tomato. It allows the beautiful taste of okra to come to the forefront, only bolstered by simple spicing.

  • Okra is the heart of this dish. Also known as ladies’ fingers or bhindi (in Hindi), okra has a bad rep, but here, it’s mild, fresh, and tender. Use fresh, unblemished okra from the grocery store (Asian markets are a good place to look) or buy frozen (more about that below!)
  • Neutral oil is a flavor carrier for all these flavor-packed spices.
  • Black mustard seeds provide pops of punchy, peppery heat. Don’t substitute for yellow mustard unless necessary; black mustard is considerably spicier but can be swapped for brown.
  • Cumin seeds add bright, warm, and nutty notes to the dish. Because we use seeds, not powder, the effect is a surprise burst of flavor with every bite.
  • Garlic is wonderfully buttery and creamy.
  • Onion marries fabulously well with the delicate flavor of okra, as evidenced by dishes like bhindi do pyaza!
  • Turmeric powder contributes just a touch of warmth and subtle, bitter, nuances.
  • Red chili powder is where this vegetarian okra curry builds fruity, fiery heat. If you’d like it less spicy, use Kashmiri chili powder.
  • Coriander powder brings bright, citrusy flavors to the background, developing complex layers of spicing.
  • Salt is a must!

Okra Curry with Frozen Okra?

Can’t find fresh okra locally? There’s no need to give up on this recipe. Indeed, it’s possible to make bhindi masala with frozen okra.

Although buying fresh vegetables is always brilliant, I know well that it’s not always accessible — or affordable. I was hesitant the first time I cooked this dish with frozen okra, but the truth is … it’s just as scrumptious! In fact, these photos were taken using frozen okra (who would have guessed?) Don’t worry: using frozen okra in bhindi masala doesn’t sacrifice flavor or texture.

If you can, specifically buy pre-cut frozen okra. Use it straight from the packet (no need to defrost) and follow the recipe as per usual!

Dry Okra Curry Allergens

My recipes cater to numerous different dietary preferences and requirements, but this vegetarian okra recipe is one of the BEST. It’s suitable for practically everyone, with no adjustments needed … making it an ideal dish for sharing with friends and family.

  • Is bhindi masala vegan? Yes! Bhindi masala is 100% vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free. It’s also WFPB (whole foods plant-based), with the ingredients list only containing vegetables, herbs, and spices. Now that’s what I call wholesome!
  • Is bhindi masala gluten-free? Luckily, bhindi masala is also suitable for anyone with gluten allergies or intolerances. I recommend you serve the okra curry with jowar bhakri, a traditional Indian flatbread made with sorghum flour (naturally gluten-free).
  • Is bhindi masala keto? Perhaps surprisingly, yes. Okra is great for a keto diet!

That’s not all. Bhindi masala also ticks the boxes for being soy-free and nut-free.

Bhindi masala in a clay bowl with dal and onion bhaji.

How to Make Okra Curry

Since this bhindi masala takes less than 20 minutes to cook from start to finish, you’d be correct to assume the method is unusually straightforward. I’ve broken it down to just four simple steps. Familiarize yourself with these instructions, and you should be well on your way to learning how to prepare bhindi masala!

  1. Prep the okra. Wash the outside, then dry completely and cut into rounds. Skip this step if you’re using frozen okra!
  2. Start the okra curry. Add oil to a kadai and crackle the mustard and cumin seeds. Add the onions and garlic, sautéeing until soft.
  3. Add the spices, then add the prepped okra. Stir everything well.
  4. Cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly, until softened. Then season with salt.

The full instructions (including ingredient quantities) for how to cook okra curry are in the recipe card below.

Cookware You Need

Expert Tips for Bhindi Masala

While the steps are remarkably quick and, for the most part, completely effortless, there are still a few expert tips you should know. Most of them concern the one major question people have when cooking with okra: how do you avoid slimy okra?

  • Choose the best okra! Success starts at the beginning, and it’s no different for this vegetarian side dish recipe. How to pick the best okra? Search out bright green okra without brown marks, bruising, scratches, or other discoloration. Some people advise snapping the pods — I avoid this, as it’s rude to shopkeepers and not necessary. The best okra for sautéeing are always thinner, smaller pods.
    However, be aware that okra has fine hairs that can irritate the skin, so handle it with caution!
  • Keep everything dry to avoid sticky okra! That includes your knife and chopping board.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan, stir the okra excessively, or cover the pan. All of these will create steam and moisture, which will exasperate the potential sliminess.
  • Only salt the okra at the end of cooking. Adding salt earlier on draws out moisture, which can make it extra slimy.

If you follow these simple tips you’re practically guaranteed to achieve drool-worthy, restaurant-style bhindi masala with NO sliminess. Even if you’re an okra hater (or just concerned by all the “okra is disgusting” discourse, implementing these tips might just help change your mind.

Vegan okra curry with chapatis.

How to Store Bhindi Masala

If you don’t finish this recipe all at once, you can store leftovers in an airtight container, refrigerated, for three days.

Can you freeze okra curry? Well, yes. You can freeze anything! But as the adage goes — it’s whether something defrosts and reheats nicely that’s the real crux of the question.

Bhindi masala is a dry dish, and generally speaking, dishes with more substance and a thicker sauce (say palak paneer or misal pav) reheat better. Prepare to potentially experience textural issues. If you do freeze bhindi masala, store it in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to three months. Reheat on the stovetop or microwave.

What to Serve with Okra Curry

Learning how to match Indian dishes together is an art, and it vastly improves the eating experience! Luckily, if you’ve ever wondered what to eat with bhindi masala, I’ve got all the answers:

  • Bhindi masala with chapati (roti/poli) is my go-to combo. Even though it also tastes fantastic with flaky layered parathas, there’s something special about the comforting, homely feeling of scooping up fresh bhindi masala with chapatis.
  • Bhindi masala with rice is an easier, low-effort option that still tastes delicious, especially paired with another dish with more sauce.
  • I HIGHLY recommend serving okra curry with dal — either Maharashtrian varan or dal tadka — alongside onion bhaji, cucumber raita, and vangyache bharit or bharli vangi. It’ll be a feast for the ages!

This Bhindi Masala Recipe Is …

  • Authentic and traditional
  • Vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free
  • Ready in less than 20 mins
  • Budget-friendly
  • Free of slime!
Bhindi masala okra curry in a clay bowl with dal, pakora, and roti.

Vegan Okra Curry, Indian Bhindi Masala

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

A super simple Vegan dry curry made with less than 10 ingredients. Perfect to eat with Dal and Flatbread.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Prep the okra*. Wash the outside, then dry completely and cut into rounds.
  2. Start the okra curry. Heat neutral oil in a kadai over medium flame. Add the black mustard seeds and cook until they pop. Next, add the cumin seeds and wait for them to crackle. Now add the onions and garlic, sautéeing until soft.
  3. Add the spices to the pan and immediately mix, then add the prepped okra. Stir everything well to coat the okra in the seasoning.
  4. Cook the curry uncovered for 10-15 minutes, stirring now and then, until softened. Turn off the heat and season with salt, an optional pinch of goda masala, and freshly chopped coriander (cilantro).

Notes

* If you're using pre-cut frozen Okra, there's no need to wash and dry the Okra. You can skip this step and add it directly to the pan.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 160Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 335mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Bhindi masala has a balanced flavor of mildly hot and spicy chili, fresh “green-tasting” okra, and earthy, warming spices.

Wondering about the difference between bhindi masala and bhindi do pyaza? The answer is in the names. Bhindi masala is a simple sabji made with okra and spices, while bhindi do pyaza pairs okra with two (do) types of onions (pyaza). Additionally, bhindi do pyaza is typically cooked with extra tomatoes, whose sour flavor balances nicely with the natural sweetness of onions.

Yes, bhindi masala is healthy! Okra is rich in essential vitamins and antioxidants, while spices. boast their benefits. Pair it with other foods containing more protein, fiber, and carbs for a balanced, healthy meal.

One serving of this bhindi masala has 160 calories. However, nutritional information isn’t always accurate and figures will vary with recipes.

Yes, okra tastes fantastic in curry dishes! The key is knowing how to cook okra to get the most from the ingredients. One of my most beloved curry dishes using okra is this bhindi masala, although bharli bhendi and vendakkai sambar (okra sambar) are definitely up there too.

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