From Beirut to London in 100 Dishes

Bamieh bil Zeit — Okra with Olive Oil and Tomatoes

 

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Okra looks very tempting when you see it fresh in a Lebanese market.  But the perennial problem with okra — and the thing that puts some people off it for life — is the slime that can appear when you heat it and cook it.  I know this, because I have felt exactly the same way.  But there are methods to stop the slime, which comes from something called mucilage that is found inside the plant. You need to make sure the okra is completely dry before you start cooking. And then you need — at all costs — to avoid overcooking.  I find that the best thing of all to stop it getting slimy is to squeeze lemon juice into the water in which you boil the okra.  If you get it right, you should have no problem.  And then you should be able to serve up bamieh — one of the healthiest and most delicious stews in Lebanon.

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Ingredients

500g of frozen okra / ladies fingers — fresh is better if available

2 large spoons of olive oil

1 large onion peeled and diced

6 garlic cloves peeled

1 large bunch of coriander washed and chopped

1 glass of hot water

2 lemons juiced

2 small spoons of sun-dried tomato paste

4 tomatoes diced

1 tea spoon of salt

1 tea spoon black pepper

1 tea spoon of cinnamon

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  • In a medium size pot, heat the olive oil and fry the diced onion and garlic until golden brown
  • Add the coriander and stir for few minutes, then add the frozen okra
  • Add hot water, lemon juice, sun-dried tomato, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper and cinnamon
  • Cover the pot with the lid
  • Once the sauce starts to boil reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 25 minutes
  • Serve hot with vermicelli rice and garnish with coriander leaves
  • If you are using fresh Okra, remove the hard stem by trimming the pod and fry for couple of minutes before you add the hot water.
  • The lemon juice is essential to stop the Okra becoming slimy
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