In Texas, okra is practically a state vegetable, offered fried at every BBQ joint and road stand. Well, okra aka bamieh is also beloved in the Eastern mediterranean shores, especially in Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.
Now that Easter is fast approaching and people will be fasting, this dish will appear with regularity. Okra, stir-fried in olive oil and cooked till meltingly tender in a stew of onions, tomatoes and garlic is served at room temperature with a side of pita bread.
- 1 Bag of frozen okra (14 ounces) or the fresh okras
- 1 red onion, chopped or a small bag of pearl onions (6 ounces)
- Tomato sauce (14 ounces) or fresh tomatoes, peeled and cut in dice
- 1 teaspoon of allspice or seven-spice mix
- 1 Tablespoon of mashed garlic (mash with a teaspoon of salt till pasty)
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/3 cup of olive oil
- Chop the onion and heat a deep skillet (with cover). Pour 1/4 cup of olive oil and fry the onion till golden. Meanwhile, peel and mash the garlic with a teaspoon of salt till the mixture is pasty.
- Add the okra (still frozen) to the onions and stir-fry for 5 minutes or so. Add the garlic paste to the okra, then the tomatoes (or tomato sauce) and lemon juice and allspice. Cover the skillet and let the mixture simmer for 45 minutes, making sure it does not burn at the bottom. Uncover the last five minutes of cooking to let more liquid evaporate and turn off the heat. Serve at room temperature with some pita bread.
NOTE: To save time I use the frozen okra that is available at the Middle-Eastern store imported from Egypt; it is already prepped and requires no additional chopping.
If you are using fresh okra, cut off the tip of the pod, dry with paper towels and stir-fry in olive oil; then proceed with the recipe.
Traditionally, okra is served with fresh coriander incorporated in the stew; I omitted here because I use a thick tomato sauce; I probably would have added the coriander (cilantro) had I used fresh tomatoes.
Okra prepared this way was not slimy at all!