Simple dish for post-Easter meat fest

Vendakka Mappas – Okra Curry with Coconut Milk

Creamy coconut milk with crunchy bits of okra is what makes this vegan Kerala style curry so delicious.

Finally I am done with all the rich heavy meats, sweets, desserts etc after Easter. Time to make some delicious vegetarian dishes, straight out of my Kerala kitchen. This okra coconut curry with some plain rice hits the right spot when it comes to comfort food. 

The word ‘okra’ is used everywhere for this vegetable, but in India we call it ‘Lady’s Finger’, because it resembles a slender finger or, more specifically, a lady’s slender finger. This name is used to describe the appearance of the vegetable and is not related to any specific historical or cultural stories. The English term okra comes from the Igbo language of Nigeria, where the plant is called Okwuru – which became Ochra, and Okra. 

Many folks dislike okra because of the sticky, slimy feel. But if cooked properly, it can be really delicious.  My favourite is “Vendakka Mappas” – Okra Curry with Coconut Milk, (Vendakka is Okra in Malayalam, the language of Kerala), where the okra is sautéed with onions, tomatoes and spices and cooked in coconut milk.  A really simple, unassuming dish yet with so much flavour and the texture of the crispy bhindi in the coconut milk curry makes it just perfect. Yum!

Basics to remember when you pick fresh okra from the market is to make sure they are young and tender – you can check by snapping the tips to see if they snap off with a crackle.


  • 20 Okra
  • 6 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 large red onion sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 3 green chillies slit in half lengthwise (or according to spice level required)
  • 1 large tomato sliced
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons -toasted peanuts for garnish
  • salt to taste


Wash and pat dry the fresh okra. Drying the okra is very important to make sure it is not slimy. 

Trim the ends and cut the okra into 1 or 1 ½ inch pieces.
Heat 4 tablespoons of the coconut oil in a pan and sauté the okra till it gets a little brown and crispy on the sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep on absorbent paper.
Add the remaining oil to the sauté pan and add the sliced onions, minced ginger, green chillies and sauté till the onions soften. The raw smell of the ginger should disappear. Add the dry spices to this mixture, and sauté. If the oil is not enough to sauté, add another tablespoon of coconut oil.
Add the sliced tomatoes, and salt to taste and cook till the masala is cooked through.
Add the crispy okra to this and stir till well incorporated. Stir gently so as not to break up the crispy okra.
Add the coconut milk, stir and let it simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Do not boil at high heat or the coconut milk may separate. Add the peanuts as garnish at the end before serving.
Serve hot with steamed plain rice.

Serene Tharian, arranges South Indian Dinner Clubs through her cooking club, The Best Exotic Kerala Kitchen. She can be contacted on 99222462. 

Instagram/Facebook: @thebestexotickeralakitchen