Okra is known as "bamia" in almost every Mediterranean country. This is a classic Middle Eastern okra recipe that can make an okra lover out of the staunchest objector. First, you have to know how to choose the best.
Plump, unblemished, bright green pods 2 to 3 inches in length will be tender and not stringy when cooked. Store in the refrigerator and use within a day or two to ensure freshness, flavor, and nutrients. If your recipe calls for sliced okra, always do so just before it is needed or the juice will ooze out of the pods too early and you’ll loose the smooth texture.
Did you know there is actually a festival every year celebrating okra? Here's more on that and the history and health benfits of bamia (or okra, if you insist).
Frozen okra is acceptable for okra stews like this recipe; just keep them frozen until using.
1 pound fresh or frozen okra, trim tough tips from fresh okra
3 tomatoes, coarsely chopped or 1 (14.5 ounce) can chopped tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ cup water, plus
1 teaspoon salt
1. In a large skillet with a tight fitting lid, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Uncover, add more water, ¼ cup at a time, as needed to maintain a stew-like consistency. Do not stir. Continue to cook, adding water as needed, 30-40 minutes until okra starts to fall apart. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
2. Serve as a stew, over Sephardic Pink Rice or arrange okra on round serving platter in a wheel pattern as in the photo above, with the small ends at the center. Spoon any tomatoes remaining in the pan over okra, or mound in the middle of the plate as shown.
Makes: 4-6 servings ~ Can make ahead
Active time:15 minutes ~ Cooking time: 1 hour
Easy Passover Recipe
Now let's go from Sephardic cooking to Southern fixin's with this recipe for soul satisfying Chicken and Okra Gumbo, a kosher take on an authentic New Orleans classic.