I love okra stew. Ghanaians (amongst other West Africans) love okra or okro, as we call it. It is traditionally served with a fermented corn and cassava dumpling (or a stiff porridge) known as banku, however I have tried it with several sides such as couscous, quinoa and millet. I enjoy the variety that different sides offer.
When I was growing up in Botswana (Hey, I was raised by Ghanaian expatriate teachers there), my mother would often make okra and banku. Her okra stew was often made with beef and she made her own version of banku, away from the abundant cassava found almost everywhere else in Africa, but Botswana. I did not particularly think much of this dish when I was young. But as they say, they older you get, the more these foods of yesterday remind you of a place where happy memories were made. I make my own version of okra stew. Life in my kitchen should always be simple, and from memory, my mother’s okra stew did not appear very easy to make. But okra stew is so simple, delicious and very quick to make. I love to use only fresh ingredients when making the stew, and I do not cook it for very long at all; there is no need to complicate it. Okra stew can be made in a variety of ways and even with an assortment of meats. I particularly love okra stew with seafood. Any type of seafood. Fish such as salmon or tilapia cooks in such a short time that you could actually create a lovely and simple meal in 15 minutes.
To give okra stew it’s traditional flavour, the use of sustainably sourced palm fruit oil is a must. The combination of palm oil, fish and tomato yields a very unique flavour that can be distinctly linked to Ghana. The red palm oil, rich in carotenoids, also adds a vibrant colour to the dish. In terms or texture and consistency, this stew can be made quite runny and can appear to be more of a soup. I do not particularly enjoy okra when it is too slimy, therefore when I chop it up, the pieces are not too small and the cooking time is kept to a minimum so long as the okra is cooked and tender.
You may serve this with a variety of carbohydrate rich sides, although you will most enjoy eating okra stew with something which can soak up all the lick-worthy sauce. Try serving the stew with polenta or semolina, and if you are already accustomed, then sadza (a Southern African staple made with corn meal) will go perfectly with this stew.
Note: The words and recipe in this article have been reworked from an article I wrote over at africancuisine.about.com.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: Serves 6
- 2 tablespoons sustainably sourced red palm fruit oil
- (Use vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon smoked paprika as a substitute for palm oil)
- 1 brown onion
- 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 inch of ginger
- 1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper
- 400g fresh okra pods (40 pods)
- 200g large prawns (jumbo, king)
- 200g squid rings
- 300g white flesh fish fillets (tilapia, bream)
- 250mls chicken or fish stock
- 2 lobster tails (optional)
- Spring onions for garnishing
- Chop the onion then fry it in the oil on a medium heat until caramelised.
- Add the tomatoes, garlic, pepper and ginger to the pot and stir. If you prefer, you may liquidise the tomatoes with the ginger, garlic and a little portion of the onion together, then add to the pot. Allow to cook until the tomatoes reduce.
- Chop the okra pods by slicing them across to create round pieces. These should be about a third to half a centimetre thick. Add the okra to the pot, followed by the prawns, squid and fish. Top up with the stock and stir. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until the okra is just tender.
- If you want to make this dish extra impressive, and have the budget for it, get the lobster tails and place them into a baking tray. Place them onto a tray, flesh side up. Place a teaspoon of butter on each tail, then bake in a preheated oven at 220 degrees Celsius (or 200 for a fan forced oven).
- Place the okra stew into a serving dish, garnish with the spring onions then top up with the lobster tails.
Did you like this recipe? Follow me @myburntorange on Instagram for my latest recipe inspirations.