Friday, July 20, 2012

120. Bamia or Okra Stew

Scorching summer, or cruel winter, Iraqis will have their bamia!!
Arguably one of the most popular Iraqi foods, it might not be a stretch to say some households lunch on Bamia on a weekly basis.
Tender mutton falling off the bone, a rich immersion of garlic, tomato, lemon and okra, served with luscious fluffy and crispy rice...
A word to the wise: Bamia's flavor is considerably heightened if consumed the day after it is made.


1 Tbsp ghee
1.5kg lamb meat on bone
2 bay leafs
1 tsp pepper
1 cup lemon juice
2x400g okra zero, thawed
2 heads garlic, peeled, cloves halved
6 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp salt


Sear the meat on both sides with the hot ghee in a large pot.
Add bay leafs, and boiled water enough to cover by an inch or so.
Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, let boil gently for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Add the pepper, lemon juice, okra, and halved garlic cloves.
At this stage you must refrain from using any tool to stir the stew, as the okra are sensitive and might break.
Resort to gently swirl the pot to distribute the ingredients.
Cover and let boil gently another 30 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and salt, swirl to distribute.
Let simmer an additional 15 minutes.

Broth should now be slightly thicker than soup consistency, and the meat easily falling off the bones.
If serving the next day, store in the refrigerator and reheat only by swirling the pot.
Serve with rice, preferably the crispy-crust rice à la Iraqi way.

 صحة و عافية


Donna @ said...


What is okra zero? These look like tiny stunted okra. I'm in Georgia.....can you use regular okra we have here, or would I cut them in half? Also, I don't quite understand the 2x400g. Would that be 800 grams?

Maryam Mohammed said...

Hi Donna!
Okra zero is the classification of the size of okra, which you accurately described as rather small and stunted. I tend to prefer them to larger okra, as the larger ones tend to be more fibrous and have more mucous. You can certainly use any type of okra, bearing in mind these facts.
I would not however cut the larger okra (besides cutting off the stem) because that would encourage them to release their mucous in the broth.
Keeping the okra whole is better, I would think.
2x400g means two packets of four hundred grams of okra, as I used frozen okra.
The same quantity would apply to fresh okra.
Thank you so much for your genuine comment, the first on this popular post.
I hope this helped, and welcome back with more questions any time.

B said...

Thank you for the Bamia/Okra recipe. For those who are always in a hurry like me, the pressure cooker can be used to cook the meat in 12-15 minutes by which time a small amount of broth remains. The other ingredients are then added (I include a tin of chopped tomatoes and 400ml creamed tomatoes instead of tomato paste). A further 2-3 minutes in the pressure cooker will be sufficient. I usually adjust the seasoning and acidity after that.

Sticking to a maximum of 3 minutes in the second pressure cooking phase will prevent the bamia from disintigrating. The secret to a good bamia is a thickish sauce, hence the tip regarding the increased flavour if left overnight. Some people fry a bit of onion with the meat to give flavour and thickness (as in Egypt and Palastine). Others use tamarid (Tamur hind) to increase the sourness of the sauce. This will result in a nice sauce; however the coulour will be darker (red-brown) rather than the familier red sauce.

Bamia can be eaten alone with nice bassmati rice or poured over shredded bread (Thireed) and consumed with or without rice.


Maryam Mohammed said...

Your contributions are invaluable!
Yes you are so right about all you mentioned, but I seem to have a phobia from pressure cookers (they freak me out) so although I know they shorten cooking time considerably, I avoid them nonetheless...
We mostly eat the bamia with rice, but if we were having people over we would present it as thareed and the rice on the side.
Thanks again for your input!

Sana said...

Hey Maryam, do you have a vegetarian version of this? I'd love to try it!

Maryam Mohammed said...

Hi Sana!
Yes there are vegetarian versions of Bamia. To make this recipe vegetarian, all you need to do is omit the meat (obviously), decrease the garlic, and use vegetable stock.
I will put it on my list of recipes to do since you're interested.

Sana said...

Thank you Maryam!

Anonymous said...

hi Maryam i hope i can find small bamia like in the middle east, ours here in the philippines are usually long about 3 to 4 inches and still very tender,ill try to make bamia here for ramadan using whole large ones which i dont need to buy as i have a backyard garden bearing a lot of fruits,thanks for the recipe.

Maryam Mohammed said...

You're welcome!
I have also tried planting okra, and I found that the bigger I let them get, the more tough and fibrous they are. This is why I began picking them when they were still small. Also the larger one were more mucosal. Masha Allah about your backyard; I wish I had more of a green thumb!

Anonymous said...

Hi there, this looks great, thanks for sharing. Just wondering if you fried the okra first as that how it looks in first pic. Also do you defrost your frozen okra first. Thanks. S

Maryam Mohammed said...

Hi S, no I had just given them a quick rinse in that picture. Usually when I make this stew I add the okra while still frozen (and unfried) to avaid getting them accidentally mashed. I know many people who do fry it before adding, but I only fry them if making the vegetarian okra stew to add flavor.I hope this clarifies.

Anonymous said...

Hi Maryam, very helpful. Will try and get back to you on the result. Cheers. S

Anonymous said...

Hi Maryam
this is such a wonderful recipe!! to begin with, okra, or gombo as we call it in French, is one of my favourite vegetables...I was wondering if it's possible to substitute the lamb with beef? thanks in advance!

best wishes,

Maryam Mohammed said...

Hi Jean Pierre, of course! Some people averse to red meat even use chicken in which case you would need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. I also have a vegetarian version on the blog.
Happy cooking!

Selina said...

I make bamia a lot, it's not my favourite but it does well for a winter dinner