"Fried vegetables are quite common in the Middle East," says Joseph Abboud. "The beauty of these is that they're cooked quite dark, which often gives a bitter-sweet caramelisation."
- 200 gm okra, halved lengthways
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying
- 50 gm chickpea flour (besan; see note)
- 50 gm cornflour
- Lemon cheeks, to serve
- 1Toss okra with 1 tsp sea salt. Leave covered at room temperature to draw out the bitterness (1 hour).
- 2Dry-roast cumin on low heat until fragrant (3-5 minutes). Cool, then grind with a mortar and pestle and toss with ½ tsp sea salt.
- 3Preheat oil to 180°C. Rinse okra to remove salt, drain and pat lightly with paper towels. Combine chickpea flour and cornflour in a bowl, toss okra in flour mixture to coat well, tapping off excess flour, then fry in batches until golden brown (3-5 minutes; (be careful, hot oil may spit). Drain on paper towels, then toss fried okra in cumin salt and serve with lemon cheeks.
Chickpea flour, known as besan, is available from select supermarkets and Middle Eastern and Indian grocers.
Drink suggestion: An anise-flavoured spirit such as arak or raki. Drink suggestion by Ari Vlassopoulos.