I know many of you would like me to go straight to the recipe. However, I would like to speak a little bit about the most popular spice mix of Odisha and also West Bengal. It is called Pancha Phutana or Panch Phoran. The spice mix actually contains raw seeds instead of its powder form. It not only gives a nice crackling sound when put in hot oil, it also gives that nice pickling aroma while cooking in mustard oil which is the most preferred and easily available oil in the eastern part of India. So what is the spice mix: It has equal quantities of Mustard Seeds, Cumin Seeds, Fennel Seeds , Fenugreek Seeds and Nigella Seeds . People generally reduce the amount of fenugreek seeds because it has a bitter taste. Try not to as it has great medicinal properties.
Black Mustard seeds are often used. However if you are not used to the pungent taste of it, use yellow mustard instead.
Also, like people use many souring agents like tamarind, kokum or Lemon Juice, people in the east use dried mango also known as Ambula, a little piece of it can be easily found in the pictures above.
Since, the climate of Odisha is extremely suitable of mangoes, there is usually an ample produce of it which house hold ladies prefer to dry it up to be later used in curries and rasam.
Moving on to the recipe, Okra is a humble vegetable which is loved by most people including those who hate eating vegetables. It can easily chopped and instantly gets cooked, thereby, saving a lot of cooking and preparation time.
Now, how can washing and cutting Okra be an easy task. Well, I generally keep the Okra soaked in water for at least 15 to 20 minutes to remove any traces of dust and then drain excess water using a strainer. This is what I do just before going to bed. I let the okra sit in the strainer and leave it over night. Next day, when water has dried up completely, I chop them in batches. This saves me a lot of time not to wipe each Okra individually.
Sweet and Sour Okra is an Odisha flair which has the sweetness of Jaggery or Sugar and sourness of Ambula (dried mango) . It is usually prepared as an accompaniment instead of pickle.
It is not a dish which you will ever find in a restaurant. However, if you happen to be from Odisha, this is a very popular or rather common dish of every household.
It is a mild dish and is just delicious . Give it a try !!!