Lebanese Okra & Coriander Stew

This is one of my favourite dishes. Known as ‘Bamia’ in Arabic, it is sometimes referred to as ‘Lady’s Fingers’ and is served throughout the middle east (usually cooked with lamb but this is my vegetarian version). Okra is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants as well as being low in calories. I buy the okra frozen because it’s difficult to find baby okra fresh. The fresh ones in the market are usually the large okra – which doesn’t work as well for this dish. You can find frozen baby okra in most middle eastern or Turkish shops.

Preparation time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 55-60 minutes.

Ingredients (serves 3 – 4 people)

  • 2 bags of baby okra
  • 1 white onion chopped
  • 6-8 garlic cloves lightly crushed
  • 1 cup of coriander chopped
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 small tin of tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1.5 cup of boiling water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation and cooking

  1. Once you’ve chopped the ingredients, fry the onions over medium heat in the olive oil, nutmeg and cinnamon for 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the tomato paste and half a cup of boiling water, then mix. Cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes (stirring occasionally).
  3. Add the okra (from frozen is fine) followed by 1 cup of boiling water and mix gently. Place the crushed garlic on top and cover. Leave to simmer on medium-low for 20 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. Mix the okra gently (careful not to break them) and leave to simmer on low for another 20-25 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat off. Add the chopped coriander and lemon juice, then mix gently and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Garnish with coriander and serve with Arabic rice.

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