In the South, cornmeal-battered and fried or cooked in a gumbo are how many people enjoy okra. But its African origins, and use in Caribbean and Mediterranean cuisines make it a versatile pod.
Chef William Dissen, owner of The Market Place restaurant in Asheville, uses okra in a multitude of dishes. His favorite preparation comes from his wife, Jenny. Originally from Ahmedabad, India, she introduced him to a classic dish, bhindi masala.
Dissen prefers to use heirloom purple okra from Gaining Ground Farm in Leicester, along with their yellow onions and various tomatoes. The heat in the dish comes from garam masala, a mixture of spices. “This is one of our go-to meals at home,” he says, “because it’s easy to make, very healthy, and the flavor explodes right off your plate.”