As a young fella on the islands I knew this vegetable as the one our mom would sometimes use to scrub blackened pots with and to be quite honest, I was never a fan of it. As we’ve discussed before, that lack of appreciation quickly went away as I grew older. When dried the jingi or Chinese okra is commonly known as a luffa and used all over the world as a body scrubber, but our mom had one use for it.. scrubbing pots.
When still green (not fully mature to it’s fibrous state) the jingi is a lovely vegetable, with a mellow sort of flavor and works well as a curry.
2 lbs jingi (Chinese okra)
1 small onion (diced)
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 tablespoon veg oil
1 heaping tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch black pepper
2 potatoes (cubed)
1 tablespoon chopped shado beni (or 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro)
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
1 cup water + 3 tablespoon
Note: Shado Beni (chadon beni) will also be called culantro and can be found at West Indian, Latin and Asian food stores.
Wash, peel and cube the jingi into 3/4 inch pieces (make sure the jingi is NOT fully mature so you don’t have to discard the inner (fluffy with seeds) parts. I used everything.
Heat the oil in a deep sauce pan on medium heat, then toss in half the diced onion and garlic, turn the heat down to low and allow the flavors to build slowly. After 3 minutes, add the curry powder (heat still on low) and allow it to toast for about 2 minutes. The spices which make up the curry will bloom at this point. Pour in the 3 tablespoons of water as well as the diced scotch bonnet pepper and allow to cook for about 3 minutes. This will now take the rawness out of the curry. It will go grainy and start to clump – that is natural.
Now turn the heat up to burn off any remaining liquid and add the cubed jingi and stir well so everything gets coated in the curry base. Now top with the black pepper, salt, chopped shado beni and add the diced potato. The final step is to add the 1 cup of water and bring to a boil.
Turn the heat down and allow to simmer until everything is tender (lid on). It will take about 25 minutes to fully cook. The goal is to have the potato tender to the point where it will help thicken the overall dish. Taste for salt and adjust to your liking. If you find that it’s still a bit runny, you can turn the heat up and burn off any excess liquid.
This is a lovely vegetarian dish which is great with rice and/or sada roti and a great way to use a very underused vegetable. If you’re not sure where to get the jingi (Chinese okra), check out your local Asian or West Indian market.