Veggie Limpin’ Susan

A variation on a Carolina coastal favorite

Photo: Beatriz da Costa

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.


  • Veggie Limpin’ Susan (Yield: 4 servings)

    • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

    • ¾ lb. okra, trimmed and sliced (about 3 cups)

    • 1 small red onion, chopped

    • 2 jalapeño chiles, diced

    • One 1-inch piece peeled ginger, minced

    • 2 tbsp. minced garlic

    • 2 tbsp. curry powder

    • 2 tsp. garam masala

    • 1 tsp. kosher salt (preferably Diamond Crystal)

    • 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed

    • One 13.5-oz. can full fat coconut milk

    • 1 cup vegetable stock

    • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

    • Lime wedges, for serving


  1. Add the olive oil to a large saucepan set over medium heat. When it is hot, add the okra and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes to release some of the slime. Stir in the onion, jalapeños, ginger, garlic, curry powder, garam masala, and salt, lower the heat, cover the pan, and cook for 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. 

  2. Raise the heat, add the rice, and stir well, scraping up the seasonings and oil from the bottom of the pan to thoroughly coat the rice. Stir in the coconut milk and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.

  3. Remove the pan from the heat and let the rice steam, covered, for 10 minutes.

  4. Fluff the rice with a fork and stir in the cilantro. Serve with lime wedges on the side.

From The Simple Art of Rice by JJ Johnson with Danica Novgorodoff, Flatiron Books 2023.