Okra or okro is also known as lady’s fingers or if you hop over to our spicy cousins in India, they call it bhindi. It needs no introduction and tonight I have put together a rediculously easy okra stew. When is comes to West African, American Southern (think gumbo) and Asian cooking, it really needs no introduction but a little bird told me that it is causing quite a storm in the UK at the moment.
I grew up in a Ghanaian household, even though this home was located 6000 kilometres south in Botswana. But I recall my mom cooking okra stew with beef, which we would eat with banku, a Ghanaian staple with a soured flavour. I will write more about banku later, but for now, we are mesmerised with okra.
Before we start, here is why you should eat it.
1. It is highly nutritious and is a good source of calcium, potassium, folic acid, fiber and vitamin C.
2. Yes you read it correctly, folic acid. It is good for pregnant women and the development of their babies because it is a natural source of folate.
3. The dietary fiber in okra may assist in fighting against conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. So what are you waiting for? Eat for life. Read more about okra facts at heathyeating.
What inspired this recipe was a night out with my girls at a Lebanese restaurant, where they served us vegetarian dishes with whole okra amongst other things. And so I have taken traditional flavours and just not chopped the okra. This recipe is worth a try and only needs a hint of palm oil in order to taste just as authentic as any West African okra stew. And it is also perfect for an absolutely vegan and vegetarian meal.
4 tbsp palm oil
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp fresh ginger
1 tbsp tomato puree
3 large ripe tomatoes
1 scotch bonnet pepper
200g fresh tender okra (say 35 pods)
250 mls vegetable stock
1. Finely chop the onions, garlic, ginger and pepper. Slice up the tomatoes.
2. Heat up 4 tablespoons of palm oil and fry the onions, garlic and ginger for a couple of minutes till softened and fragrant. You may wish to use your regular favourite oil and add a tablespoon of red palm oil for flavour.
3. Add a tablespoon of tomato puree, followed by the chopped tomatoes. Fry for about 5 minutes until broken down. Add the chopped scotch bonnet pepper.
4. Trim the stalks off the okra but not too deep into the fruit if you wish to avoid the goo from being released. Add them into the pan followed by 250 mls of vegetable stock. Allow to simmer until the sauce is reduced to a thick stew consistency.
Enjoy with rice or yams or over a bed of steamed quinoa as pictured.