Lebanese Okra Stew (bamia)

This is a recipe for an okra stew from Lebanon. Although the recipe includes lamb, it can easily be made vegetarian/vegan by omitting the lamb (see tip below).

Method

1. In a large pot, fry the meat until browned. If using onion, add this towards the end of browning and cook to soften.

2. Pour in about 1-1.5 litres of water, it should come to above the level of the meat. Bring the water to simmering point and then add the tomato puree/paste. Season with salt and pepper (be very generous with the salt.) Leave to simmer on a low heat with the lid on for 30 minutes, or if using a cheaper cut of meat then allow extra time to really soften the meat.

3. If using fresh Okra, wash, drain and trim the stalks. Then fry in hot oil for about 2 minutes. Drain from the oil and set aside. (This does not need to be done with the frozen okra which can be used straight from the freezer.)

4. Fry the crushed garlic in butter or oil for about a minute or two, then add the chopped corriander and fry for a further minute or two.

5. Add the garlic and corriander, and okra to the pan with the meat. Add the lemon juice if using. Bring back to simmering point, stir very gently, and cook on a low heat for a further 30 minutes.

6. Serve hot with rice.

Hints 'n' Tips

I prefer to use the frozen Okra for this recipe as it tends to be smaller and more tender than the fresh okra available and doesn't require frying first.

This dish can also makes a delicious vegetarian meal - simply omit the lamb, fry onion, add water and tomato paste, season and go straight to step 3 without the first 30 minute simmer.

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