When I decided to write a post on an okra dish, my husband advised me not to do it. He said seeing its photo, most people would leave that post in seconds. And I said I’d take that risk as I knew there would be people who love okra.
I’m trying to remember when okra became one of my favorites. I think it was during my university years when I was staying in a dormitory. It was the first time I was away from my parents and from mom’s dishes. It was so difficult to adapt to that new life in a new city, but more importantly, it wasn’t easy to get used to a new eating style containing mostly fast foods. I missed mom’s warm homemade dishes so much and I understood those days how they were tasty and valuable.One day, I visited my parents in my hometown without calling them at a holiday time and I remember that day was the day when I started to love okra. I’m sure mom wouldn’t have cooked okra if she had known I was coming, but I could eat anything made by mom’s hands those days. Okra has been one of my favorite dishes since then.
Most people don’t love okra because of its slimy texture when cut. But we can’t ignore it has many benefits on health. It helps digestive system by helping stomach and intestines work orderly. As it contains a high level of fiber, it adjusts blood sugar and it’s the best remedy if you have digestion problems. Besides, it’s rich in minerals, vitamin A and calcium. As it’s low in calories, okra may be the main vegetable for you if you’re planning to go on a diet.
(drawing by mom)
And I have good news for those who find okra unpalatable. I know the ways to take the slime away and to reveal the real tasty flavor of this vegetable.
Before the cooking procedure, there is something you should know while buying okra. If you are buying it fresh, you should get the bright ones with no color changes or damages. Also, you should prefer the short ones as their inside seeds are smaller, and it shows that they are picked at the right time. If they are too long, they may be tasteless.
Another important point is that you should wrap them in a paper towel to keep them in refrigerator. If you keep them in plastic bags, they will go bad in a short time. And this keeping time shouldn’t be more than 4 days.
Tips for a tasty okra dish:
- First peel, then wash the okra.
- Remove the tiny green part surrounding its cone. Do not cut its cone completely, peel it in a conic shape. And do not pierce the pod in any way. If you damage it, it starts to weep and release its slime.
- Wash it gently.
- Squeeze lemon on them and wait it for about 20 minutes. This will make it less fragile.
- Add lemon juice into dish just when you add okras into the pot.
- Do not stir the dish while cooking. You can shake the pot if necessary. You can stir it after it is done.
- Do not use metal spoon, use a wooden one.
I always cook okra in this way and it never gets slimy. After learning these tips, lets learn how to make a tasty okra dish.
- ½ kg okra
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 5 medium sized tomatoes, peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- ½ lemon (to wait the okras in it)
- ½ lemon (to squeeze in the dish)
- 2 cups hot water
- Salt to taste
Clean and wash okras as it is said above. Squeeze lemon on them and wait for about 20 minutes. Touch them gently while doing all these.
Meanwhile saute onions in olive oil. When they get golden, add tomatoes and garlic slices. Stir it and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add okras, but do not drain the lemon juice in them. Put them into the dish together. Squeeze half lemon and pour it just on the okras without wasting any time. Don’t forget, you will not stir it until it’s done. Cover it and cook about 5 minutes.
Then pour 2 cups hot water, add salt and cover it. Cook it about 30 minutes until the okras get tender enough.
Serve it with lemon wedges in case your guests want to add some more lemon into their dish. Lemon is an important ingredient in okra dishes. It both prevents it from being slimy and gives a wonderful flavor to the dish.