Saturday, November 10, 2012

Turkish okra stew

While okra originated in Africa, it is also very popular in Indian, Southern American, Caribbean and Middle Eastern cuisine.  In India, okra is cooked with lentils and loads of spices in the form of a stew. Caribbean cuisine also has its own version of okra stew and it is an important ingredient of jambalaya a southern american stew. This version of Okra stew is from Turkey. Whole okra is slowly simmered in  a tomato based sauce and finished with lemon juice to give it that tart fresh taste.
I serve it with buttered basmati rice and a yogurt raita.

Turkish Okra Stew

1 lb small or medium sized fresh okra
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, chopped (a little more than a cup)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 to 1 cup water
3/4 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  1. Wash and dry the okra well. Trim the okra stem. Heat a heavy bottom 3 quart dutch oven with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the trimmed okra and cook over medium high heat till the okra gets brown spots all over. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  2. Put the dutch oven back on the stove and add 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Add the onion and fry gently until transparent over medium low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 3/4 cup water, sugar, pepper and salt to taste. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the fried okra and the chopped parsley and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes covered till the okra is tender but not mushy.
  5. Pour the lemon juice over the cooked okra and serve warm with buttered rice.

Buttered Rice

1 cup long grain Basmati rice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups boiling water

  1. Wash and soak the rice in cool water for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drain the water and set aside.
  2. Heat a heavy bottomed 3 quart dutch oven with unsalted butter. Add the drained rice and saute for a few minutes till the butter is absorbed by the rice and the rice gets a pale golden color.
  3. Add salt and 2 cups of boiling water to the rice. Reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes till all the water is absorbed. Turn off the flame and let the rice sit for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork.

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