Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Levantine Okra Soup البامية

This is a recipe I really love primarily from the Levantine area of the Middle East. It includes what a friend once described as the "three basics" of Levantine spices: garlic, tomatoes, and cilantro (sometimes parsley). This obviously isn't in everything, but they make a meal out of near anything...

You can make this with either lamb or chicken. I happened to have some lamb broth, but after testing my squat PR, I didn't really feel like biking to the only place I know that sells lamb, so I used chicken.

This recipe is based on one from the "Arabic Cooking: Step by Step" cookbook I have (in Arabic).


Lamb or chicken (for the lamb use rib meat if possible, cut into small pieces, and I used whole bone-in chicken - if you omit the meat, this is vegetarian friendly)
1 pound okra, detailed and cut into 1/4-1/2" slices (frozen is fine)
4-5 tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 small onion, minced
1/4-1/2 c. minced cilantro

2-3 cloves garlic, squished with salt
Juice of one lemon
1/2 tsp. Arabic spices
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

3-4 c. chicken or lamb broth (or water) (Unless you produce it as detailed below)

For lamb meat:
1. Brown the lamb in some oil or fat, then add some salt, and water to cover, then bring to a boil and simmer for two hours (or 45 minutes in a pressure cooker).

For chicken:
1. Boil chicken (I boiled it in the lamb broth) until cooked, then remove the meat from the bones.

2. Saute the onions until transparent, then add the tomatoes. When they start releasing their juices, add the okra, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice and spices, and cook for about 5 minutes.

3. Add broth (or the lamb juice) and meat to the pot (it should make a soupy-stew consistency), then cook until the okra is no longer woody, about 1/2 hour.

Serve on vermicelli rice and enjoy!

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