Middle eastern okra casserole (Bamieh)

For most people, the word okra conjures up one of three images:
Indian food
Slime (and not the fun slime that seems to be everywhere you look nowadays)

Well for today, I want to add another picture to that group. One that is just as tasty as the first two yet has nothing to do with the third.

For the month of October, our assignment for the MFBC was to catch up on any of the previous challenges that we have missed during the year. I missed 4 challenges: Meat based recipes, Ramadan memories, a recipe from the Pakistani kitchen and choosing a recipe from Shab’s lovely blog. I was planning on doing a recipe from each of the challenges but as usual, there weren’t enough hours in the day (or in this case, the month!!) so I ended up doing just one. Featuring one of my family’s favorite meat-based recipes: Middle eastern okra casserole or saniet Bamieh.

I love this recipe for three reasons:

  1. it requires minimal prep! 15 minutes max to chop the tomatoes and onions and you’re good to go
  2. It can be made the night before, just mix everything up and place it in the fridge.All you have to do the next day is take it out of the fridge and into the oven it goes.
  3. It tastes even better the next day! So I can make a double batch and enjoy a break from cooking the next day

In the crazy busy life that we all have, what recipe wouldn’t get extra points for all that!

Going back to the association that many people make between slime and okra.It might come as a surprise to you but you will never hear anyone in the middle east complain about the sliminess of okra! That is simply because the traditional ways of cooking okra in this part of the world use 4 little secrets to bring out the best in those beautiful green pods. I’m going to let you in on  our 4 little middle eastern secrets for enjoying  a slime-free okra recipe today(these work perfectly for any okra recipe be it a casserole, soup or stew)

  1. Choose small pods (preferably no more than 3cm long)
  2. Cook it whole. All the prep that you have to do is to cut the stiff part of the cap off without exposing the inner pods(if using fresh okra) If you’re using frozen okra then use it as is, no prep is required
  3. Cook it low and slow with something acidic like tomatoes.
  4. Add your favorite spices (cinnamon and allspice work beautifully with okra)If you like okra, give the middle eastern way a try, I just know you’ll love it! and if you don’t like okra, give this recipe a try, I have a very strong feeling that you’re going to change your mind about okra:)

Palestinian bamia.jpg

Middle eastern okra casserole

1 kg okra
250 grams beef cut into cubes
4 cups tomatoes chopped
1 medium onion chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons olive oil divided
5-6 cloves garlic peeled and roughly minced

  1. In a bowl add the okra, meat,chopped tomatoes, onions, salt, allspice, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  2. Toss to combine.
  3. Transfer to a baking pan. Bake in a 350 oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. In a pot over medium heat, add the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil along with the garlic.Fry the garlic until golden and crisp.
  5. Top the casserole with garlic and drizzle with the oil it was cooked in

Serve with pita bread and enjoy