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roasted okra

Okra Stewed in Tomato with Coriander and Preserved Lemon


Okra stewed in tomato with coriander and preserved lemon is one of my favorite dishes. I came across it in Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty and while I had previously cooked okra with tomato and spices, the particular flavours and the fact the okra is first roasted before being stewed really makes this version very special. Okra has a lot of fibre that becomes soluble on cooking, making it quite a slimy vegetable. While this is seen as an attribute for the thick gumbos of the Southern American states, the extreme unctiousness is not always sort out for dishes in other parts of the world, where the acidity of lemons or vinegar is used to lessen the effect. While I quite liked the sliminess it was not until I roasted the okra that I really came to adore this strange vegetable.  Roasting is a great way to bring out the pleasant nutty  flavours of vegetables such as cauliflower or Brussles sprouts while retarding the sulphur taste associated with these brassicas.  Roasting also enhances the flavour of okra while keeping it toothsome and, you guessed it, not slimey.

This dish is fragrant with coriander, preserved lemon and mint. While in Yotam’s version he adds whole coriander seeds in the tomato sauce, I prefer to scatter the seeds with the okra during roasting and use the finely minced roots and the leaves of a bunch of fpreserved lemonresh coriander in the sauce instead. Some store bought brands of preserved lemon can have a rather artificial flavour for reasons I don’t quite know, so I now prefer to make use of my own which are nothing more than lemons and salt. If you have a jar of preserved lemons you made in the last lemon glut then it is in this dish they will really come into their own. Make sure you wash the lemon halves or quarters well under running water, remove the flesh and completely scrape away the white pith with a sharp knife before you chop and add it to the stew.

This okra stew makes a wonderful main meal served on basmati rice or a vegetable side with grilled meat or fish. It is even really tasty eaten cold on its own. I hope you like my version of this dish and add okra to your list of market vegetables.

Okra Stewed in Tomato with Coriander and Preserved Lemon

serves 4

  • 500 g fresh okra
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbs coriander seedspreparing okra
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 red banana peppers, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 small bunch fresh coriander with roots
  • 2 large tomatoes, skinned and chopped ( or 400g can of tomatoes)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt
  • 1-2 tbs chopped preserved lemon
  • 2 tbs pitted black olives
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbs chopped mint

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Wash and dry the okra and prepare it by trimming the stem and around the rim of the stem without exposing the seeds within as shown.  Toss the okra in a little olive oil and spread them on a baking tray with the coriander seeds, sprinkle with a little salt and roast for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile  wash the bunch of fresh coriander well, immersing the root ends in water to dislodge any sandy soil. Remove the roots and finely chop with a knife until well minced. Chop the leaves of half the bunch, reserving the remainder for later addition and some leaves for a garnish. Saute the onion with the coriander root until the onion softens. Add the peppers and chilli and cook for 5-10 minutes. Add the fresh coriander,  tomatoes, paprika and salt and simmer the sauce with a lid on for 15 minutes. Add the  roasted okra without the coriander seeds (unless your like the crunchy bits in the stew), preserved lemon, olives, some of the chopped coriander and stir gently through the tomato sauce. Add a little water to loosen it up if necessary but it should be a thickish sauce. Just before serving add the lemon juice and chopped mint. Garnish with coriander leaves.

my okra





cooking melbourne • March 15, 2016

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