I know very few people who like okra (otherwise known as lady fingers). I completely and absolutely love them!! I grew up eating the sweetest okra stew made by my Mama as it is a popular West African dish. If I wasn’t eating my Mama’s okra stew I was eating one made by one of my aunts as there was always some family party going on at the weekend.
I adore the elasticated texture and the way it thickens a sauce, draws when you lift it from your plate and makes a dish all gooey and slimy. As a kid we would play around with the okra stew seeing how far we could draw our spoon from the plate without breaking the dribbling, elasticated sauce. I know I am not selling it to those who dislike it, but try it, it really is fantastic.
You really do not have to do that much to cook them. You simply cut off the tops and cook them long enough so that the rough and furry exterior softens….I’m still not really selling it, am I?
Okra is really cheap, can be frozen and takes even less time to cook if you chop them up. Not chopping them up means they are less slimy and gooey but you still get all the goodness. Many people say they are difficult to cook but that is not true. They are quick and easy to cook, like many vegetables. Try cooking it in a curry, as I regularly do, using my recipe.
The prep. part – serves 4 – 5 people
- 300g of diced lamb shoulder or leg
- 250g passata
- 7 shallots, sliced to form rings
- 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 3cm ginger, julienned
- 3 kaffir lime leaves
- 3 bird’s eye chillies, sliced – remove the seeds if you can’t handle the heat!
- 2 tablespoons of paprika
- 2 tablespoons of turmeric
- 2 tablespoons of coriander seed
- 2 tablespoons of ground cumin
- 6 cardamom pods
- 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
- 300g okra, heads cut off and quartered
- Juice of 1 lime – keep the lime to throw into the pan
- Salt and pepper to season
The cooking/assembling part
- Place a pan onto the stove on a medium heat.
- Once the pan has warmed up, pour in the rapeseed oil and allow to heat for a couple of seconds.
- Add the shallots, garlic and bird’s eye chillies to the pan and allow to soften and slightly brown.
- In the meantime, place all the spices into a mortar and pound with a pestle until all the pods and seeds are crushed. They don’t need to be ground fine like the rest of the spices just enough to release all the oils and wonderful flavours. Add to the pan and stir in.
- Add the lamb, stirring it so all the meat is coated with the spices.
- Allow the meat to brown for 5 minutes, then turn down the heat.
- Add the passata, juice of the lime and the whole lime that you juiced.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Cover the pan and allow to simmer for 35 – 40 minutes.
- 10 minutes before it is ready throw in the okra. The sauce will begin to thicken, while the okra will soften but still have a bite to it.
On evenings where I want to have a great burst of flavour but can’t be bothered to wait for the curry to stew and intensify, I use the same spices and either minced lamb or pork, leave out the passata and just add more lime or lemon so it is not too dry. Using the mince means you can quickly and simply fry it all in a pan, and there you have yourself a quick, clean and still scrummy curry.
Serve it with the carb. of your choice (I served mine with brown rice) or simply have it with a spinach and red onion salad.