Mediterranean Okra Stew Recipe – Bamia

Mediterranean Okra Stew - Bamia | All that's Jas

This hearty Mediterranean okra stew aka bamia with lamb and beef is a celebratory dish equally enjoyed in winter and summer.

Mediterranean Okra Stew – Bamia 

Whether you call it bamia, bamya or okra, this Mediterranean stew with lamb and beef cubes is a celebratory dish originated in the Middle East and loved throughout Eastern Europe.

 

If you’re not familiar with okra, they are small green, ribbed pods best known as a key ingredient in gumbo. Its taste falls somewhere between that of an eggplant and asparagus, and it combines well with other vegetables, particularly tomatoes. Sliced okra exudes a sticky juice that thickens any liquid, a characteristic that explains okra’s long-standing use in soups and stews.

 

As a child,  I didn’t like okra and its silky yet somewhat fuzzy texture. I also disliked the chore of prepping okra for cooking. Traditionally strung on a thread to dry, like an okra-beaded necklace (that became precious pearls the minute I put it around my neck), it had to soak in warm lemon water first. Removing it from the string was a slimy situation. Luckily, frozen or fresh okra is readily available now so I can skip that unpleasant step.

 

If you’re using fresh okra, look for small, young pods no more than about one inch long. They are the most tender.  As the vegetable matures, it becomes fibrous and tough. Avoid okra pods that are hard, brownish in color, or blackened.

 

It might be true that people don’t change, but their palate definitely does. As much as I was chasing okra pods away from my plate when I was just a wee girl, I’m now fully welcoming this unusual and nutritious vegetable.

 

I mostly enjoy my mom’s simple recipe for okra stew which for me is traditional Bosnian (bamija/bamnja) recipe. But just as we remarked the meaning of traditional food in Italian cuisine in my spicy Italian slab pie recipe, same applies for this Mediterranean okra stew. The recipe will vary from country to country, region to region, and household to household, but the primary ingredients are always lamb and/or beef, okra, and tomatoes.

 

The little girl in me wants to wear dry okra necklace again. I suspect I love okra so much because, in a sense, it connects me with my unruffled childhood.

 

Enjoy okra stew with a hunk of crusty artisan bread or this Kurdish rice pilaf.

 

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Mediterranean Okra Stew Recipe – Bamia

Hearty #Mediterranean #okra #stew aka #bamia with #lamb and #beef is equally enjoyed in winter and summer. Click To Tweet

Recipe for Mediterranean okra stew

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1 pound beef stew meat
  • ½ pound lamb stew meat (or ground)
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt or Vegeta
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 pounds baby fresh* or frozen okra
  • 1 cup vinegar*
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Fresh parsley for serving

 

~ Free Tip ~

  • Don’t wash fresh okra until just before you cook it; moisture will cause the pods to become slimy. Store untrimmed, uncut okra in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator for no longer than three or four days.
  • If the pods are very fuzzy, rub them in a kitchen towel or with a vegetable brush to remove some of the “fur.”

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large Dutch oven or a nonstick pot, sauté onions in oil until softened, about 10 minutes.  Stir in garlic, carrots, beef and lamb meat and sauté until meat is lightly browned on all sides. Add spices, tomatoes, and water and bring to a boil. Cover, cook and stir on low heat until meat is tender, about 45 minutes.
  2. * Meanwhile, if using fresh, wash the okra and trim off the stems and conical tops (you should be able to see seeds inside the okra). If your okra is large, slice in half. Soak the okra in vinegar and just enough water to cover. Drain, rinse and dry then proceed with the recipe.
  3. Add the okra and lemon juice to the meat mixture. Add more water if necessary, to cover the okra. Cover and simmer until okra is tender, about 30 minutes, occasionally stirring ever so gently. Remove the lid and cook until the stew reaches your desired thickness. Check for seasoning, adding pepper and sea salt to taste.
  4. Serve the stew sprinkled with fresh chopped parsley alongside bread or rice.

 

ESSENTIALS

for Mediterranean Okra Stew


 

Mediterranean style stew with okra, beef, and lamb aka bamia

Soaking up the okra sauce with crusty bread

5 from 3 votes
Okra stew with lamb and beef
Mediterranean Okra Stew Recipe
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 45 mins
 
This hearty Mediterranean okra stew aka bamia with lamb and beef is a celebratory dish equally enjoyed in winter and summer.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Author: Jas
Ingredients
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 large carrot sliced
  • 1 pound beef stew meat
  • ½ pound lamb stew meat or ground
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt or Vegeta
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 pounds baby fresh* or frozen okra
  • 1 cup vinegar*
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Fresh parsley for serving
Instructions
  1. In a large Dutch oven or a nonstick pot, sauté onions in oil until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, carrots, beef and lamb meat and sauté until meat is lightly browned on all sides. Add spices, tomatoes, and water and bring to a boil. Cover, cook and stir on low heat until meat is tender, about 45 minutes.
  2. * Meanwhile, if using fresh, wash the okra and trim off the stems and conical tops (you should be able to see seeds inside the okra). If your okra is large, slice in half. Soak the okra in vinegar and just enough water to cover. Drain, rinse and dry then proceed with the recipe.
  3. Add the okra and lemon juice to the meat mixture. Add more water if necessary, to cover the okra. Cover and simmer until okra is tender, about 30 minutes, occasionally stirring ever so gently. Remove the lid and cook until the stew reaches your desired thickness. Check for seasoning, adding pepper and sea salt to taste.

  4. Serve the stew sprinkled with fresh chopped parsley alongside bread or rice.
Recipe Notes

~ Free Tip ~

  • Don't wash fresh okra until just before you cook it; moisture will cause the pods to become slimy. Store untrimmed, uncut okra in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator for no longer than three or four days.
  • If the pods are very fuzzy, rub them in a kitchen towel or with a vegetable brush to remove some of the "fur."

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This hearty Mediterranean okra stew with lamb and beef cubes is a celebratory dish originated in the Middle East and loved throughout Eastern Europe. | allthatsjas.com | #okra #bamia #bamya #bamija #beef #lamb #dinner #mediterranean #dinner #hearty #delicious #recipe #ethnicfood #Ramadan #glutenfree

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publisher and creative director at All that's Jas
Jas is a cheesecake addict and the author of Balkan Comfort Food cookbook available on Amazon. You can download a free excerpt of the book when you subscribe to All that's Jas newsletter updates or purchase the full version below. To learn more about Jas visit her About page.
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24 Comment

  1. Reply
    P~
    March 8, 2018 at 11:18 am

    This looks just so delicious! Thanks for joining us on Friday Frenzy, Jas! Pinned, of course! P~

    1. Reply
      Jas
      March 9, 2018 at 12:03 pm

      Thanks!

  2. Reply
    Erlene
    March 4, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    My mom used to make things with Okra when my dad was away since he didn’t care for it. I love Okra, so I would enjoy this stew. Thanks for sharing this on Merry Monday. Pined.

    1. Reply
      Jas
      March 4, 2018 at 10:21 pm

      I understand your mom. My husband doesn’t like it either, but he will eat all the meat out of the stew, lol. That’s fine, though. More okra for me. 😀

  3. Reply
    Julie S Pit Stop Crew
    March 4, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    While I am not a fan of Okro as we call it, I love the look of this Stew, it looks delicious. Thanks for sharing at the Pit Stop!

    Syl

    1. Reply
      Jas
      March 4, 2018 at 10:18 pm

      I’m not judging, lol. I’ve been hating okra for too long, now I’m making up the lost time. 😉

  4. Reply
    Miz Helen
    March 4, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    We grow our own Okra in our garden each year and this will be a perfect recipe for us to try, it looks delicious! Thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with us at Full Plate Thursday. Have a great week and come back soon!
    Miz Helen
    Miz Helen recently posted…Whats For Dinner Next Week 3-4-18My Profile

    1. Reply
      Jas
      March 4, 2018 at 10:14 pm

      Can I move in with you, Miz Helen? 😀 I haven’t tried growing okra yet. My garden is not that big. Does it need much room?

  5. Reply
    laura
    March 4, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Being from Alaska we NEVER had fresh okra. I don’t think I’ve even had as an adult. We can get pickled or frozen only. This looks so beautiful!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      March 4, 2018 at 10:13 pm

      Frozen works the best for me. Less hassle, lol. Thanks for stopping in!

  6. Reply
    Jenny
    March 3, 2018 at 7:07 am

    We love stew in the winter and this looks delicious. Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty

    1. Reply
      Jas
      March 3, 2018 at 4:34 pm

      Thanks, Jenny. Here in the Midwest, the winter likes to linger till May. 🙁

  7. Reply
    Kristie
    March 2, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    This looks so yummy!! I adore okra. I always have. I wonder how many kids love okra! lately I have been craving okra for some reason. I have never heard of soaking okra in vinegar before.

    1. Reply
      Jas
      March 3, 2018 at 4:28 pm

      Not many, I suppose. LOL. You must be your mom’s favorite. I hated everything as a kid…my poor mom. 🙂

  8. Reply
    Michelle Frank | Flipped-Out Food
    March 1, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    I am with you: I hated okra as a kid. But as you mention, it’s such a great natural thickener—I quite like it now! This stew sounds so delicious, with BOTH beef and lamb. YUM!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      March 1, 2018 at 2:22 pm

      Thanks, Michelle! So funny how our taste buds change 🙂

  9. Reply
    Italian Belly
    February 26, 2018 at 9:54 am

    I’ve been looking for a recipe that included Okra! Finally! thanks for this! #inspiremelinky

    1. Reply
      Jas
      February 26, 2018 at 7:49 pm

      I’m glad you found mine, Chandra! 😀 Thank you.

  10. Reply
    Mary
    February 21, 2018 at 8:37 am

    I always kind of liked this dish but really hated the hassle of cutting off the conical tops. And as much as my husband wanted me to make them I avoided it. But now that I see your yummy recipe I am tempted to make them again.
    Mary recently posted…How to Give a Farmhouse Chippy look to a MirrorMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Jas
      February 21, 2018 at 2:06 pm

      I hear ya! That’s why I love that I can now buy it frozen and already cleaned up. I’m so lazy, lol.

  11. Reply
    Carolann Lucian
    February 20, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    I’m so interested in stringing the okra! What was the reason for this? I grew up with okra that was either fried and dipped in a sauce or boiled and drizzled with soy sauce. Later, I fell in love with it in gumbo. It tastes amazing in stews and can’t wait to try your recipe!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      February 21, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      Carolann, I’m guessing they dried it to preserve it. It’s an annual plant that grows in warmer climates. My home country has harsh winters, so you could only find it seasonally at farmer’s markets. The demand wasn’t big enough to grow it commercially back then. Now you can find it frozen and canned as well.

  12. Reply
    Beverly
    February 20, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    Jas,
    I have not made this dish in years, since I lived in the middle East. I used lamb and beef and also did one with chicken and orka.
    I am hungry for it now so it is on my make this week meals list.
    Thanks for bringing back memories.
    Hugs,
    Bev
    P.S. Thanks for sharing your Italian Slab Pie at Over The Moon party. That looks yummy too.
    Beverly recently posted…Wonderful Wednesday Blog HopMy Profile

    1. Reply
      Jas
      February 21, 2018 at 2:05 pm

      It’s a beautiful, simple dish. We use chicken meat when we make okra soup. We call it beg (bey) soup because it’s so special. 🙂 XO

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