Bamya

Bamya or Bamyeh means ladyfinger or okra in Arabic. There is two ways to cook okra in the Middle East. One is vegetarian and is commonly known as Bamya bi Zeit, and the other is this recipe which is made with lamb.

The garlic amount may seem like a lot in this recipe. But this is where all the flavor lies. The garlic is not pungent as you might expect as its cooked first before adding it.

As I post more recipes, you will realize that most of the Middle Eastern stews are based on vegetables. We don’t primarily depend on meat. The amount of lamb meat added depends on personal preferences. Some families like to increase the amount while others don’t.

This way of cooking okra is most common in Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. Similar recipes might be found in the rest of the Middle east with minor differences.

Bamya or okra is usually served with a side of white rice or pitta bread. I personally prefer pitta bread.

You will need:

  • Lamb stock recipe
  • 1 bag frozen okra, the small type, around 500 grams *
  • 2 big ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 stock bouillons **
  • 1 garlic head,  minced,
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or samneh
  • pepper, according to taste

* Deep fry the okra

** The stock bouillons can be replaced by regular salt. Don’t worry the taste will remain the same.

*** Usually in the Middle East we use ghee or samneh. Its basically clarified butter, so it has higher burning point. In case you don’t have it available then replace it with a butter and oil mix (equal parts of both)

Direction:

Bamya - Prepare everything

Start by deep frying the okra and placing it in an oven proof dish. Prepare the rest of the ingredients.

The garlic can be chopped with a mini food processor which is easier than mincing.

Bamya - Add tomatoes

After you cook the lamb in a pressure cooker as i have shown in the previous recipe, add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and the stock bouillons. Season with pepper, then cover the pressure cooker and cook for 15 mins. If you are not using a pressure cooker, then double the cooking time.

Bamya - Cook tomatoes

The tomatoes should be stewed and it should look like this after 15 mins.

Bamya - Add to okra

Then add the lamb and tomato stew to the fried okra.

Bamya - Add stock

Then add a enough stock to cover. By stock i mean the stewed tomato liquid.

Reserve the rest of the stock in case needed.

Bamya - Cook garlic

In a frying pan, cook the garlic with the gee or butter until fragrant and nicely browned.

Bamya - Add to the okra

Add the garlic to the okra and lamb mix.

Bamya - Mix with okra

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Stir everything together until combined.

Bake the dish for 30 minutes. If you feel that the liquids has reduced by a lot, you can add a little more from the ones you reserved earlier.

 

Bamya

 

Serve with your choice of white rice or pitta bread.

Happy cooking, and as we say in Arabic “Sahha Wi Afia”

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