This was one of my favourite Arabic meals growing up as a kid. My sister hated it (and still does) but I think she has an issue with the texture, which is a little like eggplant (which she also hated – go figure).
Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly (as this dish tastes unreal), my very white Australian hubbie loves this meal – we often fight over the leftovers. It is a very simple meal to make – perfect for the mid week winter meal, and very nourishing. All I can say to make this a simple mid week meal is this; put on the rice first, and by the time the rice is done, the stew will be finished. I tend to use brown rice these days but my mum always used white and it tasted great.
I used to buy okra from the markets, but they tend to be the larger sized okra which are not as tender or tasty. So I have started stocking the freezer with frozen okra which you can buy from middle eastern, Greek or Indian food stores. I also tend to have lamb in the freezer too, so this means I can pretty much make this whenever I feel like it which makes it a good stand by meal. And the frozen okra is small and tender and so cooks quicker.
Bamia (serves 3-4 people)
1 pack frozen bamia (400g) defrosted
500 g diced lamb
2 tins tomato
3 cloves Garlic (or more, to taste)
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
Handful coriander leaves, to finish
Salt, pepper, mixed spice
Precook the bamia, either by deep frying it in oil until light gold, or the healthier option I use, which is to put it on an oven tray, spray lightly with olive oil, and grill for 5 minutes each side until golden (but not burnt).
Meanwhile, brown the lamb in a medium saucepan in olive oil. Add enough boiling water to cover, salt, pepper, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and mixed spice and let simmer for 10 minutes or so. Drain the water and reserve the lamb.
In the same pan, heat a little oil and gently fry the onions and garlic till soft. Add the tinned tomatoes, lamb, okra and spices, and let simmer gently for 20 minutes. It should thicken a little and the okra becomes soft. Taste for seasoning, add chopped coriander leaves and serve with rice.