Of all the Assyrian stews, and there are many, Okra Stew, or Bamya, is my favorite. The okra melts in your mouth and the lamb or beef is so tender. This rich stew is usually served with white rice.
Known as “Ladies’ fingers,” okra is the edible seed pod of the flowering okra plant. Assyrians call okra, “
Stew is known as “
OK, this concludes your Assyrian language lesson for the day (you’re welcome). Now, on to the recipe!
How to Pick the Perfect Okra for Okra Stew
In my humble opinion, okra gets a bad wrap. Many people, including my husband, complain about its sliminess, and never give it a chance.
It’s true, okra can be slimy, but not if you know how to pick it, and cook it correctly. The key is to pick the smaller okra (if you’re lucky enough to find it). Larger okra contains larger seeds, which are less desirable.
Additionally, the okra should be green, firm, and without blemishes. If okra is not in season, there are other great options. Most Middle Eastern markets have frozen okra, which is perfect for this stew. They’re not only tiny, but they’re super cute! Can vegetables be considered cute?
If you can’t find frozen okra, there’s always pickled okra. Just be sure to purchase the petite variety. Finally, whether you purchase frozen, or jarred okra, verify that they are whole, not sliced.
What Are the Benefits of Eating Okra?
If you love okra like I do, then you don’t need convincing. But I bet some of you are still on the fence about trying okra. What if I told you that it was good for you, would that make a difference?
One cup of raw okra contains only 33 Calories, 7.5 grams of Carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of Protein.
Besides being a good source of protein and fiber, it’s also high in Riboflavin, Niacin, Potassium, and Zinc. It is also rich in Vitamins A, C, and K. I could go on, but you get the point. Not only is okra delicious, but it’s also good for you!
What to Serve with Okra Stew
Middle Eastern Okra Stew is usually served over White Rice. Herbs such as basil, mint, and cilantro are always served on the side, along with scallions and a bowl of Turshi (Middle Eastern pickles).
Another option is to pour the Okra Stew over chunks of bread, (or Samoon, which is Middle Eastern Bread). The bread soaks up the delicious stew and makes it a more filling meal). Try it both ways to see which way you prefer!
You may also enjoy the following recipes: Potato Chop (fried potato patties),
Don’t forget to check out my Classic Middle Eastern Food Combinations.
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Okra Stew (Bamya)
- 1 lb. lamb chops or stew beef with bones
- 2 cups small okra or 1-21 oz. jar pickled okra
- 1 T. vegetable oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 T. paprika
- 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tomato chopped
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 T. lemon juice
- Cut meat into 3” pieces and wash in a strainer, until the water runs clear. Place meat in a 5 qt. Dutch oven and add 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove meat from the pot and pour out any remaining liquid. Rinse the pot and place the meat back inside.
- If using fresh okra, wash and trim the end by cutting around the “cap” to form a cone shape. If using pickled okra, rinse well before using.
- Add oil, onion, and paprika to the meat. Stir, over medium heat, to brown the meat. Mix tomato paste into 4 cups hot water, stir to dissolve. Add tomato paste to the pot, along with garlic, okra, chopped tomato, salt and lemon juice. Simmer, covered, for 40 minutes. Serve over white rice.