Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vegetarian Okra Stew

Vegetarian Okra Stew


I have been trying to workout more and eat healthier this year and so far....so good. I'm not saying that I am limiting my diet in any extreme way...I will never give up any food group or style of food (i.e. no fried food...no white sugar....no white flour...etc) sorry I just can't do that. I live life to enjoy it and one of the biggest enjoyments in my life is well.....eating. But I do believe in moderation and I feel if you do include some very healthy items in your diet well then the bad stuff doesn't hurt you as much....I'm no doctor and this may not be true at all....but it sure does make me feel better! :)

One of the changes I've been making is trying to eat more vegetarian dishes. I don't mind eating vegetarian as long as there is FLAVOR! And there's no better way to add flavor than to add ethnic spices to dishes. This okra stew is a variation of a stew my mom made a lot when we were growing up. I remember thinking okra was horrible the first time I ate it....but as I got older and as I ate it more....I've slowly fallen in love with this very unique vegetable. And even if you don't like okra....please try this stew and see if it changes your mind. It is so delicious with the flavors of cumin and nutmeg and if you eat it over rice........oh wow.....the sauce is soaked up by the rice and really....it's hard for me to eat just one serving! But if you are not eating carbs then skip the rice....it's still delicious on it's own.

My mom always used lamb or beef in this stew but I've added some extra spices and skipped the meat in this version. You can always add some lamb or beef stew meat if you'd like. I have to admit it is spectacular with meat in it, too!
Okra Stew
16 oz frozen or fresh baby okra
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2-3 cups water
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon red hot pepper (optional) I like everything a little spicy
salt and pepper to taste (about 1-2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper)
Saute the chopped onion and garlic in the olive oil just till soft. Add the tomato paste and saute for another 30 seconds and then add the diced tomatoes and mix well. Season with the nutmeg, cumin, allspice, hot pepper and salt and pepper and stir.
Add the water to the mixture, mix and bring to a slight boil. Add the okra, cover your pan and lower the heat to simmer the stew. Let the stew simmer until it has thickened and the okra is nice and soft, continue to mix during the simmering process.
Taste the stew before serving to make sure your seasoning is right as the flavors should intensify as the stew reduces. Add more water if your stew is overwhelming or add more spice if it is not to your liking. Serve over rice or just in a bowl with some naan or pita bread.

I buy frozen baby okra from the Middle Eastern market for this stew (especially when I can't find good fresh okra) but you can use regular frozen okra or if you can find fresh okra...that's great, too!

The flavors in this stew get even better as it continues to simmer and reduce.

I love using the baby okra because it is so tender...so if you can find baby okra....use it!

The final product is a rich and healthy stew that you can keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze it in batches to enjoy later!

10 comments:

Olga said...

That looks delicious and healthy!

I was surprised how much I liked okra, especially when it wasn't fried (b/c who doesn't love fried stuff??).

Once I made a recipe for okra/white beans and tomato stew: YUM.

Helene said...

Keep on doing it, I want to increase my workouts as well. I love stews. This looks so healthy.

Angela said...

Avesta,
First let me say how exstatic I was to come across your website! My husband is from Sulaimaniya, Iraq. He is Kurdish and loves his food. He is a really great cook and cooks some of the traditional soups like green bean stew with white rice, potatoe and stew meat, chicken with chickpeas. I, on the other hand, am from Kansas and now very little about Kurdish cooking. He tries to teach me but when his measuring spoon is a coffee mug, it is hard to grasp amounts. So to you, I say thank you so much for being my saving grace! I am really looking forward to trying out your recipes and surprising him (especially the Kuba)! I was wondering if you may have a recipe for Kuleecha (spelling?)?
P.S. I am a master at hummus! Thanks again,
Angela Ibrahim

Angela said...

Avesta,
First let me say how exstatic I was to come across your website! My husband is from Sulaimaniya, Iraq. He is Kurdish and loves his food. He is a really great cook and cooks some of the traditional soups like green bean stew with white rice, potatoe and stew meat, chicken with chickpeas. I, on the other hand, am from Kansas and now very little about Kurdish cooking. He tries to teach me but when his measuring spoon is a coffee mug, it is hard to grasp amounts. So to you, I say thank you so much for being my saving grace! I am really looking forward to trying out your recipes and surprising him (especially the Kuba)! I was wondering if you may have a recipe for Kuleecha (spelling?)?
P.S. I am a master at hummus! Thanks again,
Angela Ibrahim

avesta said...

Olga...okra and white beans...hmmmmm....put up that recipe...sounds interesting!

Helene...it is healthy and flavorful...just what I need in times of trying to make a lifestyle change!

Angela...I love that you found me, too! I will try to put up as many Kurdish recipes as possible. I have not made Kuleecha (there is no correct spelling as you may know we spell by sounding words out so you can spell words many ways!) but my mother makes a great Kuleecha...I will make some with her next time she visits and blog about it! Keep reading and ask for any other recipes you may want!

Sazji said...

Mmm, looks nice. I think a lot of people have trouble with the texture of okra. I find that if you start cooking the okra in the oil before any water is added, you avoid sliminess. Here (Turkey) almost every okra dish seems to include a healthy amount of lemon, which also seems to break up the slime. You can even chuck the lemon peel in with it, and add a little pepper paste if you can find it...

Joumana said...

Hello
Just discovered your blog, it is great! Thanks for the idea for okra stew, I will definitely try it, in Texas they eat tons of okra and my son turned vegetarian too!

golden parachutes said...

wow, i never would have thought of adding nutmeg, and i consider myself to be a fairly advanced chef! thanks for this recipe.. also, try it with polenta instead of rice.. delicious! i love okra.

lower back pain said...

This recipe looks great. Im giving this one a try

swati said...

hi, i made this recipe yesterday, it turned out so amazing, great recipe.