Painting with Okra

Okra caps

Okra caps, c. Raven J. Demers 2014

Okra finally returned to the Redmond Farmers’ Market, thanks to a great grower named Vic. Since we live in the Pacific Northwest, fresh, local okra is rare and is usually only available two or three weeks a year. If we don’t get there early enough, it’s often sold out each weekend, so when I saw the box still nearly full last Saturday, I filled a bag of them.

Last night, I made a smoky Indian eggplant and okra curry over coconut rice, which left the trimmings you see in the photo. Though our craft supplies, including all our paints, are packed away in the garage temporarily as we update areas of our house, we would normally have taken those star-shaped caps and used them for painting projects.

Though it’s messy, I highly recommend okra caps for stamping and painting for summer art; especially good are the woody ones that got mixed in with their smaller, tender siblings, which you’d have to add to a slow cooker to get soft enough to eat. Just cut the tops off, leaving some of the star-shaped okra at the end, prep a palette or plate with acrylic paint colors of your choice, get out some paper and a splat mat or tarp, and start painting!

The first time my daughter and I did this, she made a luscious looking multi-colored dress, and I painted a peacock with an elaborately colored tail. Using similar principles to pointillism, you can stamp-stamp-stamp your paint-covered okra caps onto the paper to create any shape or make abstract art using a blend of colors.

Don’t worry if you make a mess. It’s summer, after all, just go outside and hose off. You’ll feel great and have something colorful to put up on the fridge or wall.

I’d like to share my bhindi (okra) masala recipe with you, but despite using the same ingredients for a lot of my curries, they never taste the same each time. Instead, I’ll point you to some recipes for okra, you’re sure to love.

Bhindi Masala by my favorite Indian hostess, Manjula of Manjula’s Kitchen

Chicken, Andouille Sausage, and Okra Gumbo from Deep South Dish

And since I spent most of my childhood in the South, I have to refer you to recipes for fried okra (note, I use a traditional egg bath for pan frying, and add spices to the dry bowl, but everyone has their own method):

Gluten free fried okra by Erin Brighton

Vegan fried okra from the Southern Vegan


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