A wonderful way to showcase okra is to cook up this delicious Persian Okra Stew (Khoresh Bamieh) made with beef or lamb and tomatoes.
The colder seasons seem to spark this conversation of “comfort foods.” Of course, comfort foods are different for everyone. For our family, it usually evokes images of Persian stews. They are warm, hearty, full of vegetables and meats of your choice, and always served with fluffy, aromatic basmati rice. Can you smell the saffron????
Some friends were coming over for dinner to sample Persian food and I was at my local Middle-Eastern market checking out the fresh vegetables when I found okra was on sale. Yes, okra in October. We’re in Southern California, okay?
Bamieh versus Bamieh
In farsi, bamieh means “okra.” So khoresh bamieh is a traditional Persian okra stew made with beef (or lamb) and tomatoes. Bamieh is also known for something else, too.
There is the sweet dessert called bamieh. It is a fried dessert that is crunchy on the outside, but soft and moist inside. It is soaked in a sweet syrup scented with rosewater. This post is dedicated to the Persian okra stew, khoresh bamieh. I’ll save the bamieh dessert for another post!
How to reduce the slime in okra?
Many people have an aversion to okra because of its sliminess. But there are a few tricks to cooking with okra that helps you avoid the sliminess. First of all, do not cut or pierce the okra pods. When you are cooking the okra, do mash it about. Keep it intact.
One of the main issues with slimy okra is from overcooking. This is why I add okra at the last 20-30 minutes of the stew’s cooking time. It does not need hours of cooking. Plus, by cooking okra in an acidic dish like this tomato based stew, the acid also prevents the okra from getting slimy.
How to make stewed okra and tomatoes – Persian style!
Okra is definitely one of those under appreciated vegetables. Of course, the southern part of the US knows what a real gem okra can be. Like most Persian stews, khoresh bamieh begins with the browning of onions in turmeric. The onions are cooked slowly until the are almost translucent and golden yellow.
The stew meat is then added and browned. You can buy stew meat already cut, or you can use London broil or a chuck roast and cut it into 1-inch pieces. You can also use beef shanks. If you prefer lamb, lamb shanks can also be used for the meat in this okra stew.
I am always curious at how khoresh bamieh is prepared in the different regions of Iran. My mom’s family is from Kermanshah, the eastern town close to the Iraqi border. My mother-in-law is from the north part, near the Caspian Sea. I asked her for any tips or family secret ingredients she used for khoresh bamieh.
She laughed and answered, “You know, I’ve eaten the stew many times. I love this stew, but I’ve never made it!” She was quite surprised at her own revelation!
So, I jumped in head first, as I always do, and came up with this wonderful recipe. My husband was happy with it, and my American friends loved it, too. The stew is served on a bed of fluffy basmati rice. My kind of comfort food for the fall or any time you can find fresh okra in the market!
Can I use frozen okra for khoresh bamieh?
You can definitely use frozen okra for this Persian okra stew. Just remember, that frozen vegetables, once thawed and cooked, are much softer in texture. So don’t be surprised if your okra is a little mushy or slimy.
I prefer fresh okra, of course, for this stew. But if you can not find fresh okra, you can use frozen as a substitute.
- 1 1/2 lb beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried turmeric
- 1 tsp all-purpose flour
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 cup beef broth
- 3 TBS tomato paste
- 3 dried limes, halved*
- 14 oz canned diced tomatoes, with juice
- 1 1/2 lb okra
- In a large bowl mix together stew meat, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp turmeric and flour.
- Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat and add 1 TBS olive oil.
- When oil is hot add chopped onion.
- Cook until onions start to soften, approximately 7 minutes then season with 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp black pepper and 1/4 tsp turmeric.
- Cook for 2 minutes, then add stew meat and brown all sides, approximately 7 minutes.
- Stir in beef broth.
- Using a wooden spoon, scrape up browned bits of meat from the bottom of the pot.
- Stir in tomato paste and canned tomatoes. Add dried limes.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours. Stew can be refrigerated 3-4 days before serving at this point. Flavor is enhanced the longer it sits.
- Thirty minutes prior to serving, clean and stem okra. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Heat large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 TBS olive oil.
- Fry okra in batches until lightly browned.
- Add okra to the rest of stew, gently mixing it in.
- Cook 15-20 minutes. If you overcook okra, they turn mushy.
- Serve over white basmati rice.
You can also substitute the beef stew meat with 2 1/2 lbs of lamb shanks (with bone) or 3-4 lb fryer chicken (cut up). For vegetarian stew, substitute beef broth with any vegetable broth and add 1/2 cup yellow split peas in step 10.
* If you can not find dried limes, substitute with 1/4 cup lemon juice
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Serving Size:1-2 cups
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 337 Total Fat: 12.5g Saturated Fat: 3.5g Cholesterol: 101mg Sodium: 479mg Carbohydrates: 16.2g Fiber: 5.2g Sugar: 5.4g Protein: 39g