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  • Stella Hanan Cohen

Okra Stewed with Fresh Tomatoes Rodesli Style

Bamia kon tomat

Bamia is a flavorful, nutritious okra stew, rich served in a fresh tomato, onion and garlic sauce with a hint of tangy lemon.

This popular East Mediterranean vegan dish is a favorite amongst the Rodeslis, is served as a side as a mezze, or a main dish with rice pilaf. I like bamia with a slab of creamy Greek feta with lots of crusty bread to mop up the tasty sauce.

It is said that this vegetable originated in Africa, and in Zimbabwe where I live, okra known as derere is often accompanied with sadza, a local corn-based staple food. Growing up as a child I recall okra was also known as “lady’s fingers” and I remember my mother painstakingly trimming them when they were in season.

The sticky nature of okra gives the succulent stew its velvety body. The trick is to prepare the okra before cooking by soaking these trimmed vegetables in a vinegar and salt bath to remove the slimy texture, and then to pan-fry the prepared okra so that they retain their shape. When buying okra look for young, bright green, unblemished pods.

Some Rodeslis prefer to bake the cooked okra in a preheated oven at 350°F (180°C) for about 20 minutes to brown the bamia and thicken the sauce before serving. Whichever way you enjoy the bamia, be sure to serve it with wedges of lemon.

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