My husband’s dad’s side of the family is from Baghdad and Arabic dishes make regular appearances on our dinner table. Today’s post is about okra stew. Bamieh is the official name our Iraqi family has for this dish, but I stick to a safer ‘okra stew’ as I only witnessed my husband’s cousin’s wife cooking it once and tried to learn the steps the best I could (so authenticity of the recipe cannot be guaranteed). I improvised with the ingredients a bit and came up with a recipe that satisfied myself and the extremely picky eaters I happen to share my life with. Even my 6 year old likes it, and it says a lot!
Notes on the ingredients:
Meat: I tried it with both beef and pork and much prefer pork tenderloin for this dish. I have also heard that it is delicious when made with ribs.
Okra: if you have access to an Arabic food store, get the packages of frozen baby okra. You will not need to cut it for cooking, just rinse it. If shopping for fresh one, seek brightly coloured green pods without blemishes. You want your okra to be as fresh and young as possible or else it will be chewy and stringy. I usually discard the ‘tail’ of okra after I chop up the pods.
Pomegranate molasses: easily found in international food section of your grocery store. It is a great ingredient for the dishes that need a dash of sweet and sour notes.
Vegeta: dry vegetable seasoning, commonly found in most European kitchens. It is sold in supermarkets and online. It used to have a bad rap for containing MSG, but they have removed it since. There is also a great recipe for a homemade one on The Spruce website.
- 2 lb okra, cut into 1.5” pieces
- 2 lbs pork tenderloin, cubed
- 4 tbsp cooking oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large onion, minced
- 5-7 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cans tomato paste
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1tbsp pomegranate molasses
- Optional: 1 tbsp vegeta
- Boil meat and bay leaves in 6 cups of water until tender, about 35 minutes. You can add 1 tbsp of Vegeta to the broth while it is cooking to make it more flavourful
- Take out and discard bay leaves
- Reserve both broth and meat
- Heat oil on a medium heat in a medium size sauce pan with a thick bottom
- Add onions and sauté until they are translucent, about 5 minutes
- Add garlic, sauté for another minute
- Add tomato paste and cook, constantly stirring for about a minute
- Add reserved broth and meat
- Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and pomegranate molasses and stir well
- Bring the stew to simmer, lower the heat to medium low, cover with a lid (leave a gap to let the steam escape) and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally
- Add okra and cook for 30 minutes. If you like your okra softer, cook for 10-15 minutes longer
- Adjust the seasoning if needed; I add a bit more salt sometimes
- Serve with rice