Okra Stew and a whole lot about it

What do you know about Okra, also known as lady finger? Well, before doing some search for this post, I only knew that in Iran, especially in Khoozestan, it is used to make “khoresh-e Baamieh” or Okra stew with.  Let’s get into some of the things I learned about Okra, before sharing the recipe I already knew for it:


Okra is a flowering plant in the mallow family; an annual herb that is widely cultivated for its edible green seed pods in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate climates, and a hardy plant that can grow even with less water and in hot conditions. For full Botanical description check out wiki  .

Okra is a highly nutritious, low calorie vegetable, containing a wide range of vitamins and minerals; it is known to have numerous medicinal uses, particularly good for controlling blood cholesterol, constipation and gastric diseases. Read more about its health benefits here and here.

Okra has industrial use (in making papers according to one Persian site); it is used in handicrafts; and it is can help add shine to your hair even! Look here for tips.

More to the point, as far as cooking and eating it concerns:

Okra should be eaten while the pod is green, tender, immature and not too large (defiantly under 8 cm) Fresh okra has a nice green color to it and is without any brownish spots and scars.

Okra should not be cooked in iron and copper and is best when steam cooked, briefly fried, and cooked for a short period over low heat.

The way to cut and trim okra pot is essential in the texture and taste of the food you prepare it with.  In Iranian cuisine, we do not let the pod’s extract out.  So, each pod must be trimmed around the stem end without cutting the pod itself.

Frozen okra is more readily available than its fresh from; the problem is in frozen form the pod in either chopped or the top part cut off, even when it is whole. This is a “problem” of course only if you, like me, dislike a slippery slimy stew.

Okra stew is prepared and cooked in two slightly different ways, resulting in two different looks/colours (light red vs.  dark red) and two different types of sourness (lime juice vs. tamarind).  I describe one and add the variation where it differs:

Ingredients (serving 5-6): Beef, veal or lamb, ½  kilo, de-fatted, washed and cut into big cubes. Fresh or defrosted okra, ½ kilo. Tomato, ½ kilo, Peeled and cut into chunks. Onion, I medium, thinly sliced. Garlic, 5-6 cloves, thinly chopped. Tomato’s paste, 1 tbsp.  Turmeric, ½ teaspoon. Oil, 3 tbsp. Lime juice, 2 tbsp. Slat, red pepper power to taste.

  • For okra stew with tamarind:  Skip tomato. Use ¼ tbsp. tomatoes paste instead of one. Add half a cup of tamarind  sauce:  Get two pods of tamarind (see here how it looks); remove the hard skin. Soak in warm water for two hours. Then squeeze through a fine mesh colander to extract the juice.

Method: Start  okra stew in the same way you do with most of Iranian stews:  In a pan, sauté onion in 1-2 tbsp. of warm oil over medium heat until slightly golden. Add meat and fry for 5-6 minutes, or until the meat’s color changes. Add turmeric and garlic at the same time and fry another minute. Now, add tomato paste as well and stir well, then add chopped tomatoes.  Cover with hot water, add salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until the meat tender.

Wash and thoroughly dry okra. Sauté okra in 1 tbsp. of warm oil over medium heat, no longer than two minutes.  Add lime juice and half a cup of warm water, cover and slow cook for ten minutes. Add okra and tamarind sauce to the main meat pot and slow cook for 15 minutes. Ready to be served hot with plain rice!

  • For okra stew with tamarind: At the stage when you briefly fried okra, add tamarind sauce instead of lime juice and water and cook before adding them to the meat pot. Everything else is the same (given you did not have tomatoes to add to begin with)

Okra of course could be eaten raw in salads, and as for cooking it, there are so many other ways. Find the one you fancy most!

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