This curry okra rice was inspired by a traditional Lowcountry dish called Limpin’ Susan, or okra pilau, whose key ingredients include bacon, rice, and okra. For this version, I’ve dropped the bacon and incorporated other vibrant flavors—garam masala, curry powder, and coconut milk, which point back to India and the Caribbean. The okra itself has origins in West Africa, where it was cultivated before being introduced to the American South through the Atlantic slave trade. I’m not a huge fan of okra, to be honest, but I love it in this dish: As it cooks, the starchy rice absorbs the typical sliminess of the okra for a far more palatable texture. And okra is packed with vitamins and minerals. Its earthiness is set off beautifully by the jalapeño’s spiciness and the citrus from the lime in this easy vegetarian variation on a Carolina seacoast favorite. —JJ Johnson, from his new cookbook, The Simple Art of Rice
Read our interview with Johnson here.