Okra Balado: Stir-Fried Okra in Chilli Tomato Sauce (Vegan)

An adaptation of the traditional dishes from the Padang region. Combines the crunch of okra with the spicy, punchy taste of sambal balado.

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Deyana Goh
Deyana Goh
Deyana was born in Singapore and lives there. She is half-Chinese, half-Arab, with a grandmother who was born to an Arab family in Bogor, Indonesia. Deyana grew up eating Indonesian food as it is cooked in Arab-Indonesian households, and has fond memories of the festive whole chicken stuffed with lamb.

Sambal balado, or just balado, is one of those versatile sambals that goes with just about anything. This Padang-style chilli blend (tomatoes are sometimes added, sometimes not) is usually stir-fried with some other main ingredient, usually fish, chicken or hard-boiled eggs to make a tasty dish full of punch. 

In this recipe, I’ve made okra balado, or okra with sambal balado. Okra, or ladies’ finger as it’s known here, isn’t a typical balado dish. In fact, it isn’t a vegetable that’s commonly used in Indonesia at all, but lately it’s become popular throughout the world for its health benefits.

The gossip going around the “Ibu” circles (literally ‘mother’, but generally refers to respectable adult women who can’t reasonably be put in the ‘youth’ category) is that okra really helps to strengthen the knees. And plus, it keeps better than many other vegetables in the tropics, which tend to wilt very quickly.

This okra recipe is an adaptation of the traditional balado, and it’s an easy dish to make. Like in tumis okra, make sure you cook the okra over high heat to make sure the slime disappears. If it looks like the slime is increasing, just continue cooking and it’ll go away. Do not add water. If the wok or pan is so hot that the ingredients are about to get charred, turn the heat down or switch off the flame altogether and reignite it later on, but do not add water. 

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Okra Balado: Stir-Fried Okra in Chilli Tomato Sauce (Vegan)

Okra Balado: Stir-Fried Okra in Chilli Tomato Sauce (Vegan)

  • Author: Deyana Goh
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Vegetables
  • Method: Stir-fry
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Vegan


Okra balado is an adaptation of the traditional balado dishes from the Padang region of Sumatra, and combines the crunch of okra with the spicy, punchy taste of sambal balado.


  • 200g okra, sliced
  • 5 big red chillies, stem removed
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, stem removed
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 5 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 lime leaves
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, sliced and bruised
  • 2 lime wedges
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • Salt to taste

    okra balado ingredients


  1. Blend the chillies and garlic into a fine paste.

    blend the chilies and garlic

  2. In a wok, heat the cooking oil up over high heat.
  3. Add the shallots. Saute until they soften, around 3 min.
  4. Add the blended chilli paste. Saute until the liquid has evaporated, around 3 min.
  5. Add the lemongrass and tomato. Saute until the tomatoes are well-cooked, and the colour turns into a deep orange. Around 7 min.
  6. Add salt and lime leaves. Mix well.
  7. Increase the heat to high. Fry for about 5 minutes, or until the slime disappears. 
  8. Serve immediately.

    Serve the okra balado


  • Adjust the spice level by adding or subtracting the bird’s eye chilies, not the big red chilies

Keywords: Common ingredients, quick and easy, healthy, spicy

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