Bamia | Abeer’s Day Off

Truffles…cilantro…blue cheese….You know those foods people either love or hate? Well, for most of my life I thought how could anyone dare not love Bamia? A warm and hearty stew of okra, tomatoes, and garlic that is so simple, yet unique in flavor. What is not to love about it? I was so naive until social media came along and everyone started sharing their opinions and thoughts on everything and anything-including Bamia! It was initially heartbreaking to see people express their distaste for Bamia. But, I’ve since embraced my love for Bamia and am on a mission to convert the haters. Or maybe I can get some adventurous eaters to try it for the first time-and fall in love with it, of course! Either way, check out the episode and all the details below to make this dish yourself!

Okra is a vegetable in the mallow family that grows on a flowering plant. It’s often used in stews, fried, and can be eaten raw. If you know me personally, you know one of my favorite ways to eat okra is pickled-the perfect garnish to a (virgin) Bloody Mary. When the okra is cooked, the inside texture can become a bit slimy, which is what sometimes makes people shy away from using it. But I think part of the beauty of exploring and trying new foods is being open to different flavors and textures-and sometimes discovering a new favorite you never thought you’d try!

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Bamia is stewed okra cooked with various ingredients depending on where in the Middle East you are coming from. You will find so many different recipes on how to make Bamia. Some recipes include meat, while others keep in vegetarian. You’ll see different flavors and textures, but ultimately it’s about making the okra shine. Since it is a summer fruit, my mother tells me how her family picked, dried, and saved okra for the winter months. Perhaps that’s why I love eating it in winter-it makes me feel like I’m sharing a sweet memory of my mother’s childhood through a heart-warming dish. But with readily available produce now, you can enjoy this any time of year. In my house, we have a few different ways we like to cook it, but this is the simple, super quick way we make Bamia when it’s in season and we’re craving a bowl. I hope you try it and love it as much as I do! Check out the recipe below!

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Bamia | Stewed Okra

Prep Time: 15 minutes     Cook Time: 30 minutes     Yields: 2-4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh okra (frozen, if not in season)
  • 2-3 roma tomatoes or 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 3-4 gloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Instructions:

In a large saucepan on high heat, drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic and lightly brown it. Add the okra, fresh tomatoes, and tomato paste and stir all together. Add the water and salt and pepper to taste.

Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn it down to medium/low heat to simmer for 20-30 minutes, periodically stirring it and making sure there is enough liquid and it is not dried out. When the okra is tender and all the ingredients have married together in the stew, it is ready to serve!

Serve hot with warm pita or rice and pickled veggies and olives. Enjoy!

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