Friday, 24 May 2019

Lady's finger - General information, health benefits and cooking tips


The picture shown above is Ladyfinger or lady's finger,  is a very common plant cultivated in tropical and temperate regions especially for edible purposes. It is called venda in Malayalam, vendakkai in Tamil and bhindi in Hindi. So friends, today, my plan is to write a post on lady's finger, its botanical information, health benefits and so on. Before that, I would like to thank one and all who supported me on my previous post on the health benefits of ash guard. Thanks a lot for your positive feedbacks and shares. Yes ,of course your words are the fuel of my future drive.

 Abelmoschus esculentus or lady's finger is another popular vegetable in Indian houses which we consume almost everyday in the form of stir fries, gravy, bajjies etc.  Sometime, we put its younger ones in salads and eat raw. Do you know, we can eat its younger leaves also. We can make thoran (stir fries) or can be put in salads. Interesting - right?

Lady finger is an perennial plant grown in tropical and temperate regions for edible purpose and  is valuable for its edible pods. This vegetable is very easily available in India , in local markets, supermarkets and everywhere. This is such a popular vegetable which we can't imagine any of our feast without it. Before going to the main section, let me tell few words about the plant.



The lady's finger plant

Botanical name: Abelmoschus esculentus
Order: Malvales
Family : Malvaceae
Genus: Aveimonschus
Specius:  A. esculentus




The lady's finger plant is of  a shrub which reaches about 2 m long with long, broad and palmately lobed green leaves and white to yellow colored flowers.











The flowers are bisexual with 5-8 white to yellow colored petals.  Each overlapping petals have a lovely purple color at the bottom. These plants are self pollinating and do not need any vector for pollination.







Fruit is a capsule, up to 10 to 15 cm long with  a hairy base and pointed tip. It is pentagonal in cross section. Its pods contain numerous round white seeds which are then dried and used for cultivation. To germinate the seeds, you need to soak them in water for at least three days before sowing. It will take three days to one week for germination.





How to select lady's finger for cooking


Selecting perfectly matured tender lady's finger is one of the key steps in its preparation. Never buy lady's fingers or Okra in packets, but always try to handpick them. Choose tender, slim, soft and young lady's fingers without any black spots or bruise. Black spot indicates the presence of worm and presence of worms in lady's finger is very common.  Also avoid blemished and broken ones. The lady's finger fruit matures very fast and turn hard and fibrous. So we have to harvest its fruit within a week when they are still young. The matured ones are not suitable for cooking.

How to store lady's fingers


We buy this vegetable regularly at home and my hubby and daughters are fond of this veggie. Sometimes, he buy  in bulk. This vegetable loss its moisture very quickly when kept outside. So I recommend you to refrigerate it in plastic bags. Always put them in the lower vegetable tray of your fridge. If you put them on the upper open trays, it will rot immediately due to high moisture level. Usually I keep all the vegetables in the vegetable tray after enclosing them in Zip bags. It remains fresh for up to two week and more.

How to get rid of slimness of lady's finger or Okra


One of the major problem we face while cooking is its stickiness. The mucilage present inside this vegetable when come in contact with water turns slimy. But there are so many ways to get rid of this slimy nature. I have heard someone saying, the use of a sour agent like vinegar, lemon, tamarind etc will reduce the sliminess. But I never tried this. But what I usually do is, after washing the okra thoroughly in water (it is necessary to get rid of dust, pesticides, etc. if any), put in a colander for 10 to 15 minutes to drain excess water. Then chop it using a neat dry knife before putting in hot oil.  Any ways, it will remain slimy within seconds due to the moisture present inside, but keep on sauteing on  medium or low flame until the slimy texture completely vanishes. Once you feel, your lady's finger is non-sticky, you can put salt. Your lady's finger will be no longer slimy, especially when prepare stir fries.

Health benefits of lady's finger


As any other vegetable, Lady's finger is healthy and nutrient rich. It is high in fibers, Vitamins like A and B, Minerals like zinc, potassium and calcium, etc.

(Note : All the points given below is only for informational purpose and not to be substituted for professional medical advice. The website does not guarantee any specific results as a result of the procedures mentioned here and the results may vary from person to person.)


Consuming lady's finger regularly will improve your overall health as it helps to

  1. Promote digestion : This vegetable is rich in fiber, the presence of fiber means it prevents constipation and regulate bowel movement. 
  2. Diabetes: Presence of soluble fibers helps to keep the blood sugar level stable. Generally, fiber rich foods were recommended for diabetic patients. I had seen my grandpa having lady's finger stir fries regularly in order to control his diabetes. 
  3. Good for heart : Soluble fibers present in this vegetable lowers the absorption of bad cholesterol and thus reduces the risk of heart diseases. 
  4. Good for Vision : Vitamin A and beta-carotene present in Okra promotes vision.   
  5. Bone health: Rich in calcium and vitamin K  which are essential for health and strength of our bones and teeth is also present in this lovely vegetable.
  6. Asthma: Vitamin C rich foods are normally recommended for asthma patients. This vegetable is rich in vitamin C, So good for asthma patients.
  7. Skin health : Lady's finger also makes the skin healthy and young. it also reduces skin- pigmentation and ageing.
  8. Obesity: It is a low-caloric vegetable and the fibers in lady's finger can make you satisfied for a long time and thus helps to reduce obesity.
  9. Immune boosters: This vegetable is rich in Vitamin C and so it makes our body capable to resist against diseases. 

Home remedy of diabetics with lady's finger

Take four medium sized lady's finger after trimming its edges cut into two or three. Then put this in a glass of water and cover it. Keep for overnight and consume in the very next morning in empty stomach. This will helps to get all the vitamins, fibers and minerals. As we already discussed, this will reduce the risk of diabetes.

Conclusion


This is a very healthy vegetable that can be used as gravy, fries, salads, etc. We can cultivate them easily in our backyards. This vegetable which we call vendakka in Malayalam, bindi in English, should be included in your diets. We have a lot of lady's finger recipes in Kerala. Some are 
  1. Vendakka Theeyal
  2. Vendakka pachadi
  3. Vendakka stir fries
  4. Vendakka sambar





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