Very Tasty Okra Stew (Bamia)

okra stew

Okra Stew is one of my very favorite Middle Eastern meals. 

Known as bamia in Arabic, it was something I grew up eating.

I love okra, and I love how it is flavored in this particular stew recipe. 

Made with stewed tomatoes and flavored with coriander this is really a treat.

Often served with plain white rice, vermicelli rice, and brown rice are good with it as well. 

Okra is indigenous to the continent of Africa, and is a heat and drought tolerant plant that is related to cocoa, cotton and hibiscus. 

Not everyone is necessarily familiar with this vegetable, but in my opinion it is a good one to have on hand.

Okra has a viscous and gelatinous consistency when cooked that I personally like very much. 

This type of slimy consistency can be a challenge for some who prefer to avoid it altogether.

More for me I say!

What is Okra Stew?

okra stew

Okra is an especially tasty and popular stew made in many countries of the Middle East.

It is made using either fresh okra or frozen okra with diced tomato, onions and garlic.

Okra is filled with nutrition and fiber and can be included in a heart healthy diet.

With vitamin A, flavonoid antioxidants such as beta carotene, xanthin and lutein, this is one healthy plant. 

And that is not all, there is vitamin C, folates, niacin, B6, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin K and so much more. 

Known as ‘The Slimy Superfood’ Okra definitely needs to be a part of your diet. 

This superfood is an ancient vegetable that has been a staple in certain African countries for centuries.

It acts as a thickener to stews and soups while at the same time providing substance to any dish.

How to Make Okra Stew

okra stew

Begin by chopping the onion into half moon shapes. 

Slice the garlic width wise to create whole slivers of garlic for stronger flavor.

Add olive oil in a large cooking pot over medium high heat.

Pour in the onion and stir to coat with the oil, then add the garlic and cook until softened.

Add the okra, add the tomato, and reduce heat to medium, add salt and pepper.

Pour the broth, cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the spices and the tomato paste, and allow to cook slowly for about 15 minutes or until okra is soft.

Don’t be afraid to simmer longer to create a more tender and juicy stew.

I like to put a little extra black pepper at the end of cooking for a little added spiciness.

What to Serve With Okra Stew

Traditionally served over rice, okra stew is also complimented well with bulgur or quinoa.

Okra stew can also be cooked with various types of meat.

Everything from lamb chops to beef tenderloin, meat goes well with this dish.

What Do I Do to Make Okra Less Slimy? 

There is a way to reduce the sliminess that is associated with okra stew.

Don’t chop it, and cook it gently so that the pods remain closed.

Some people will soak the okra pods for 30 minutes in vinegar before cooking.

The longer the pods cook the softer and more mushy they will become.

At this stage they will also begin to develop the characteristic slimy quality.

I personally like the slimy consistency and I do think it adds to the overall taste of the dish.

So give it a try before you judge, besides it is not really that slimy!

How to Choose and Store Okra

okra stew

Ripe okra will snap off like a green bean when the end is broken off.

Look for bright green pods that are no longer than four inches long.

The bigger the okra grows the more fibrous it gets, so be sure to use small young okra for this stew.

Okra pods can begin to feel a bit like you are chewing on cardboard when it is over ripe.

Stay away from dull, soft, bruised or blemished pods, you also want to avoid any pods that are sticky.

Okra is very perishable and should be stored in a brown paper bag, and used in a few days for best results.

Tips For Making

Cook slowly and for a longer period of time if you are able.

This will help the stew have time to thicken, and for all the flavors to infuse the ingredients.

Use young tender okra pods when you can.

This dish is good hot or cold, and it serves as a side with many different foods.

Or it can also sit on a plate of its own as part of a mezze.

Interesting Fact

How is okra related to the marshmallow?

Okra is part of the mallow plant family, and one of those members is the Marsh Mallow plant.

And yes, the marshmallow is the descendent of a confection that was once made from the marsh mallow plant.

okra stew

Okra Stew

A superfood loaded with flavor and nutrients, this okra stew delivers an outstanding taste.
Print Rate
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 60kcal
Author: Chef Tariq


  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves chopped
  • 2 cups Vegetable Stock
  • 2 cups Tomatoes diced
  • 1 lb Okra fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup Tomato Paste
  • 1 tsp Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/8 tsp Allspice
  • dash Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper


  • Pour the olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
  • Add onion and garlic. Fry until they soften and begin to become translucent. 
  • Add the diced tomato.
  • Add the okra. Stir until mixed.
  • Pour in vegetable stock.
  • Add coriander, cumin, allspice, salt and pepper.
  • Add tomato paste.
  • Add dash of lemon juice.
  • Add a little water if stew is too thick. Just enough to thin it to your liking.



Calories: 60kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 2g | Sodium: 837mg | Potassium: 481mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1300IU | Vitamin C: 28.8mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 1.1mg

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