Bamia is an okra and beef stew popular throughout the Middle East. The meat and okra are cooked together with tomato paste, spices, water and pomegranate molasses to name a few of the ingredients. They are stewed in the tomato sauce until the meat becomes tender and the sauce thickens.
Bamia or Bamya is the Arabic word for okra. The inside of okra pod has a slimy texture particularly when cooked, which is off putting for some. When making bamia, the okra can be cooked whole to decrease sliminess in the stew.
Okra is a flowering plant from the mallow plant family. While technically a fruit, it is cooked and eaten like a vegetable. It’s believed to be native to Africa but it grows well in nearby Middle East where it is a part of many dishes.
The meat can be veal, lamb or beef. Chicken is sometimes used. There are also vegetarian versions. Bamia can taste slightly tangy due to the use of lemon juice. It is served with rice or flatbread.
Origin & Cultural Significance
The precise origin of Bamia is unknown, however it is enjoyed in many countries including Lebanon, Armenia, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Syria and amongst Arabian communities in other countries such as Malaysia and Singapore where it’s not uncommon to find bamia being made with ingredients from those cuisines such as curry and spicy peppers.
Bamia Recipe (Middle Eastern Okra & Beef Stew)
Bamia is an okra and beef stew popular throughout the Middle East. The meat and okra are cooked together with tomato paste, spices, water and pomegranate molasses to name a few of the ingredients.
- Veal, lamb or stewing beef pieces – 500g
- Small okras - 800g
- Onion - 1
- Vegetable oil – 3 tbsp
- Tomato paste- 5 ½ tbsp
- Garlic cloves - 8
- Pomegranate molasses - 1 ½ tbsp
- Salt - 1 ½ tsp
- Black pepper - 1/2 tsp
- Water - 15 cups
- Dice the onion finely and add it to a stock pot along with the vegetable oil and ½ teaspoon of salt.
- Cook the onions for 2-3 minutes until translucent.
- Wash the meat pieces and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper.
- To the pot, add the washed veal pieces and brown them on all sides for about 5 minutes.
- Next add the tomato paste and continue to cook for another few minutes.
- Add the okra to the pot along with the garlic which should be roughly chopped, the pomegranate molasses and ½ teaspoon salt.
- Add about 10 cups of water in the pot, mix everything well, and bring to a rolling boil on medium heat for roughly 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, check the tenderness of both the okra and the meat. If they are both still slightly firm, add more water (roughly 4-5 cups) and allow it to continue boiling for another 20 minutes.
- Check the softness of the meat and okra, as well as the seasoning and adjust accordingly. When the okra and meat are both tender, turn heat off and serve.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 240Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 654mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 15g