Okra is one of my favourite vegetarian dishes. According to history, it was also the favourite of one of the world’s most beautiful women – Cleopatra of Egypt! The vegetable resembles a lady’s finger. I wonder if this is why she liked the vegetable or is it because okra is said to keep the skin smooth and beautiful?
Anyway, back to my recipe, the mix of okra, spices, the sweetness of the tomato and the tanginess of the tamarind or lemon creates a wonderful explosion of flavour. In this recipe I have used frozen okra, which you can get from Asian grocery stores.
The addition of lemon or tamarind eliminates the sticky substance that okra releases when cooked.
In Somali, we call this wonderful vegetable baamiye. Maraq means sauce hence Maraq baamiye – okra with sauce.
Maraq Baamiye goes well with any kind of flatbread like sabaayad or steamed rice. Leftovers are great as a sandwich filling.
Maraq Baamiye (Okra Sauce)
500g frozen or fresh okra, cut into slices and washed
2 tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 onion, diced
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 green chillies or 1 tsp ground red chilli powder (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon tamarind paste or lemon juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
Small bunch of fresh coriander leaves and a handful of dried fenugreek leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt to taste
1.Fry the mustard seeds in the oil. As soon as they start to pop, add all the ingredients at the same time.
2.Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the okra is tender and the liquid has almost evaporated. Add a quarter cup of water if you like it soupier.