During Asian and South Asian Heritage Month, we are sharing the stories of Asian leaders in our community, team members, and Asian and South Asian-led organizations that we at The Mississauga Food Bank are proud to work with.
Meet Alizeh Jaffrey Zaidi, Donor Engagement Officer at The Mississauga Food Bank!
“We couldn’t do any of this important work without the support of our generous community. When you read this and reflect on the foods that feel like home to you, please consider making a donation to The Mississauga Food Bank to help over 30,000 neighbours who access the food bank each year.”
Alizeh believes that for organizations like food banks, food pantries, and other emergency food programs, it’s important to be able to provide not only healthy food but culturally appropriate food too.
“Simply put, food is a big part of ‘home’. It is something that connects us deeply with our roots. It’s painful to imagine that comfort and connection being interrupted by circumstances such as food insecurity. By providing food that is both healthy and culturally appropriate, The Mississauga Food Bank can restore a comfort even deeper than just preventing hunger for our neighbours in need.”
In honour of Asian and South Asian Heritage Month, Alizeh is sharing a recipe for crispy breakfast bhindi (okra).
“In Pakistan, it is common to have a dry vegetable dish for breakfast. Crispy breakfast bhindi is a perfect comfort food that is salty, spicy, and healthy all at once. The flavours are made for each other and the addition of crispy fried onions just completes it wonderfully.
I was a toddler when I moved to Canada from Pakistan and one of the few blurry memories I carry from that time is having breakfast with my Dadajaan (grandfather), who would add little pieces of bhindi to my high chair tray as a snack to keep me entertained. Even though I was too young to speak and no words were exchanged, food has a way of creating its own language and integrating into lovely memories.
Over the years, this recipe has been a go-to for Sunday morning breakfasts with my family when the week slows down enough to prepare and enjoy a traditional meal. Many times we will also have fresh tomato chutney and minced beef with green chilies for a full spread. Warm, soft chapatis are perfect to scoop it all up.
Recently I got married and my husband and I were excited to realize that crispy breakfast bhindi is a favourite food for both of us, despite not being a very common dish. It makes me smile to think that this piece of Pakistani heritage will find a place on our table for years to come.”
Alizeh, thank you for everything you do and for taking the time to share with us!
Crispy Breakfast Bhindi Recipe
- Thinly sliced bhindi (okra) – in Canada it is usually found precut and frozen
- Dried red chili peppers
- Crispy fried onions
- Butter and/or cooking oil
- Seasoning (salt and red chili powder)
- In a wide and shallow pan, add three tbsp of cooking oil and optionally a pat of butter for flavour
- Once the oil heats up, add 2-3 dried red chilies, torn into small pieces
- A spicy and buttery aroma will tell you that it’s time to add the cut bhindi (if frozen, use two packets as it will cook down significantly)
- Saute the bhindi until it is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside
- Towards the end, add salt and a hint of red chili powder if you want it to be extra spicy
- *Note that salt should not be added before the bhindi is mostly cooked because it will draw out moisture and prevent crispiness
- Finish off with a small handful of crispy fried onions and mix before serving along with chapati or some soft, untoasted bread.