During a casual stroll around a friend’s neighbourhood in Penang, Malaysia, from a distance I spotted someone kneeling amongst weeds, in absolute concentration of sort. Plain curiosity got the better of me so I walked up and said hello. Then I realised the green growth were not invasive weeds but actually edible plants which I grow in my backyard!
The kind lady told me “No land is wasted here. All neighbours seed sow or plant cuttings where empty land is ignored by government and we all simply pick what is available and just what we need for a meal-dish”. Then she insisted that I take a bag of young sweet potato leaves so that my friend can taste what is freely available and join in the anonymous food growing group in the area.
Should I also start planting edibles in/on vacant lots in my neighbourhood? Food for thought ~ pun intended. 😀
All my life I have known these edible pods as Lady’s Fingers until I came to the US. Checking out the ingredients needed for Gumbo, I found out that Okra is its other name. Next thing I discovered is that it’s a Summer crop so … it’s a good reason to plant and eat with the season.
Ripe and ready
The fun of a morning walk in the backyard is sometimes getting ideas of what to cook with what’s growing ~ so for today …
Vegetarian Curry with steaming white rice for lunch.
Finally! My Okra or Ladies-finger plants are starting to bear fruit, well the red ones are. Hopefully green ones will follow suit soon.
Beautiful leaves with red veins indicating it’s the Red Okra.
The Young Ones
Nice and ready
The first full pod I usually leave to grow and dry out – for seeds. These seeds I can further sow for more plants in summer. Summer Gumbo soon to come.
Okra seeds saved this summer.
I saved lots of Okra seeds ~ to sow & to share, but …
I did make Gumbo for dinner last night. This is the 3rd time I’ve followed Paula Dean’ Gumbo Recipe.
Ah yes, the heating-loving Okra loves the Floridian summer, which is halting almost all other edibles except the tropical ones. But Okra which the English (and my mum used to) call Ladies Fingers is just happily growing away. Do you know why Ladies Fingers are called Ladies Fingers?
The large pod for next year’s seed supply; the smaller 1 ready for harvest.
The smaller pod in the picture is the size of a lady’s finger … that is the best size for harvest & that’s how the name “Ladies Fingers” came about.
Okra Bloom ~ just as pretty as the Hibiscus.
In Singapore, they are commonly used in curries but my favourite Indian Okra dish is Bhindi Kurkuri which is Okra crispies ~ excellent with nuts and cold beer 😀 . Bhindhi is Okra’s Hindi name.
If I want something simple to go with white rice, I just cut them diagonally and do a stir-fry with onion strips and some of my Sambal, maybe throw in some shrimps as well. I also use them as Nature’s Gravy Thickener.
Now, in the US I have learned how to make New Orleans style Gumbo and boy! is that a delicious dish. Incidentally, the word Gumbo is derived from the word “Quingombo” which is what Okra is called in Bantu, a West African Language.
I will have enough Okra to knock up a pot of Gumbo in the next couple of days. Looking forward to that ….