As a child, my mother cooked okra in tomato sauce for us quite often (it is called khoresht in Farsi, which means stew). I loved the way the house smelled of this beautiful bud, as my mother fried it in olive oil before adding it to the stew that often contained chicken, onions, and turmeric. Years went by and okra was for me a distant memory in my cooking repertoire, until I went to the St. Lawrence Market last weekend to shop for my Easter turkey. There, in a small basket next to the green beans, these bright green and oblong gems were sitting, waiting for me to choose them. Fried, served atop my bean and tomato stew, they were a hit among an otherwise traditional Easter menu. On the topic of tradition, although indigenous to Africa, and used frequently in Indian, Middle Eastern, African cuisines, the slave trade propagation to the New World also expanded its use in Caribbean cookery as well as cuisine of the southern United States.
Okra Bean Stew
2 lb okra
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 head garlic, sliced
6 cups beans (red, kidney, black eyed peas, or fava), cooked
2 cans diced low sodium tomatoes
6 fresh tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp curry powder (mild)
Cook 6 cups of beans in 6 cups of water in a large stock pot. Follow link for cooking instructions. Drain cooking water and rinse cooked beans several times to wash off extra sugar (this will help prevent bloating and related symptoms). Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add all spices and stir with wooden spoon for one minute. Add okra and saute for 2 minutes. In slow cooker or dutch oven, add chopped garlic, cooked beans, canned and fresh tomatoes. Add okra on top of mixture. Cover and cook on high heat for 3 hours in slow cooker or in dutch oven over low heat for 1.5 hours. Serve with rice, roti or naan flatbread. Bon Apetit!