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You’ll love this air fryer version of Punjabi bhindi masala. It comes together in less than 30 minutes with very little hands-on time and yields perfect results every time!
Okra (or bhindi as it is called in Hindi) is a food that people tend to either hate or love. As a kid, I couldn’t stand bhindi, but as I’ve learned new ways of preparing it, I soon learned to love okra, especially when paired with tomatoes and onion in a traditional bhindi masala recipe.
This air fryer bhindi recipe is an even easier version of my already simple bhindi masala recipe. Not only does the air fryer make this Indian okra dish easy to prepare, but it also cooks okra perfectly and is not the least bit slimy. This makes air fryer okra a popular dish even with kids, and especially when served with fresh roti or rice, accompanied by dal.
Bhindi Masala is a Punjabi recipe that is made with lady’s fingers (also known as bhindi, or okra in English), onion, tomato, and fragrant spices. While the classic dish requires the tempering of cumin or mustard seeds, this easy air fryer masala bhindi is much simpler to prepare.
Air fryer lady’s fingers require very little hands-on time and are easy to make even with frozen okra!
Reasons to love this recipe
- It’s ready in just 30 minutes, and requires no extra time to sauté the onions and tomatoes. Just dump it all onto the tray and add it to the air fryer.
- Air fried okra is not at all slimy. Instead it is flavorful, crisp, and perfectly cooked every time.
- You can even use frozen bhindi in your air fryer, no thawing needed! Cooking frozen okra in the air fryer is so simple. All you have to do is add the okra, onions, tomatoes, and spices and walk away.
- This is my favorite way to prepare frozen fried okra. Not only is it flavorful, but it is also easy to make with little preparation and almost completely hands-free.
Health benefits of okra
Okra is a great source of vitamins and minerals, in particular vitamins C and K. It is also packed with antioxidants, which help your body fight off harmful free radicals.
Read more: Nutrition and health benefits of okra.
Here’s what you need
- Okra – also known as bhindi or lady’s fingers (both frozen and fresh will do)
- Tomatoes – roma tomatoes are the best, since they have few seeds
- Onions – peeled and finely chopped
- Oil, carom seeds, salt, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, dry mango powder, and kashmiri chili powder.
Prep ahead tip: Using frozen okra
You can use frozen okra for this recipe too! Before freezing, make sure you rinse and completely dry them. Chop them to the desired size and transfer them to a freezer-safe container such as Zip Top.
Do not thaw before using!
Air Frying Tips
For best results, follow the guidelines below
- No overcrowding – Always arrange food in a single layer and cook in batches if needed.
- Spray oil on your food unless the protein already has oil in the marinade.
- Use a parchment paper or grease your tray / basket to ensure food won’t stick.
- Toss or flip the food halfway during cooking to make sure the food is cooked evenly.
You’ll need an air fryer to make this recipe. Here are the two that I recommend
- Basket style (Phillips 7 QT, 1725W) – easier to flip food but cooks a smaller amount (2-3 servings).
- Convection oven-style (Instant Pot 20 QT, 1800W) – This one takes more space but can bake, broil, toast, warm, dehydrate and even has a rotisserie feature. Holds more food – perfect for families of 4 or more.
Cooking with okra
After rinsing okra, dry it completely. To avoid okra from getting slimy while cooking –
- Rinse the okra under running water to remove any dirt or grime. I do it one by one to make sure every single one of them is dirt-free.
- Use a clean cloth or paper towel and pat it dry.
- Spread it over a clean plate to air-dry them. For best results, air-dry them overnight.
Store the leftovers in the refrigerator. Consume within 3-4 days. Reheat the masala bhindi using a microwave.
FAQs about Air Fryer Roasted Okra
There is no difference! Bhindi is simply the Hindi word for okra. It is often also called lady’s fingers, since the shape is smooth and long with a tapered end, just like a lady’s finger. All three terms are referring to the same plant.
Rinse each okra very well under running water, and dry completely by patting with paper towels or a clean towel. Make sure your okra is completely dry to ensure you get the best results and no slimy texture.
You do not need to thaw frozen okra before air frying. Just add the frozen sliced okra to the air fryer tray and cook directly from the frozen.
Air fry your frozen okra at 375F for 16 minutes, turning at the halfway point to ensure even cooking.
If you frequently have slimy okra, the solution is very simple – after you rinse the okra, dry it completely. Rinse each okra to ensure it is completely dirt-free, then use a clean cloth or paper towel to pat it dry. Also, do not add water to your okra before or during frying.
Your bhindi can become very sticky if they have not been properly rinsed and dried. It is very important that you dry your bhindi very well, patting each one dry with a paper towel or clean cloth.
Adding salt to your bhindi before cooking will help it retain its green color, as well as be careful not to overcook it. The longer you cook your bhindi, the more the color will fade.
Always pick okras that are bright green, crisp, and do not have blemishes.
If you love this Indian-style okra, I know you will enjoy my other Indian side dishes. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Bhindi do pyaza – This caramelized onion and okra recipe takes all of 20 minutes to cook and goes well with rotis, rice, and dal.
- Bhindi masala – This flavorful bhindi masala recipe will capture your heart. Cooked in a tangy onion-tomato masala, this vegan and gluten-free okra dish tastes great with freshly made rotis.
- Aloo methi – Aloo methi combines stir-fried potatoes (aloo) with freshly chopped fenugreek leaves (methi) to create an aromatic and flavorful side dish that is best savored with ghee laden rotis.
- Cabbage kootu – This delightful combination of cabbage and chana dal sabzi is a simple and delicious accompaniment to rice and sambar. Make this easy vegetable dish in about 30 minutes using your Instant Pot.
- Beans poriyal is traditionally made over the stovetop, but this Instant-Pot version will blow your mind – because it pressure cooks in zero minutes. Pair it with rice and your favorite curry for a complete meal.
Air Fryer Bhindi Masala Recipe (Indian okra)
- 1 pound okra rinsed, dried and chopped
- 2 tablespoons oil avocado or olive
- 1 teaspoon carom seeds ajwain
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ¾ teaspoon dry mango powder amchur
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
- 1 cup finely chopped onions
- 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes ~ 2 small Roma tomatoes
- ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
- Wash the bhindi/okra and pat dry them with a towel. Let it air-dry overnight, if possible.
- Cut the bhindi to the desired size.
- To a medium-sized bowl, add all the ingredients (except cilantro) and combine well.
- Place parchment paper on the cooking tray. Add the okra mixture and spread them evenly. Place the cooking tray inside the air fryer.
- Press Air Fry. Set temperature to 375°F and set time for 16 minutes [see note].
- Around the halfway mark, rotate the tray and stir the bhindi for even cooking.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve with warm rotis.
Disclaimer: Approximate nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.