If you’re craving a taste of Morocco, look no further than a plate of Moroccan okra. This appetizing dish is a flavorful blend of aromatic spices and fresh ingredients. Also known as lady fingers or bhindi, okra is a vegetable that hails from North Africa and has a rich culinary history in Moroccan cuisine. These slender green pods are tasty and offer a wealth of health benefits. They’re a great source of vitamins, fibre, and antioxidants, making them a fantastic addition to your diet.
Benefits of Eating Okra
Okra is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s packed with essential nutrients, including:
- Vitamins: Okra is rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, and various B vitamins.
- Fibre: The high fibre content in okra aids in digestion and supports heart health.
- Antioxidants: Okra contains antioxidants that help combat free radicals in the body.
- Minerals: It’s a good source of minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
Fun Facts About Okra
- Slime Factor: Okra is known for its mucilaginous or slimy texture when cooked. While some people find this off-putting, it’s a prized quality in dishes like gumbo, where the slime helps thicken the sauce.
- Versatile Vegetables: Okra is used in various cuisines worldwide. It’s a staple in Southern United States cooking, Indian curries, and, of course, Moroccan dishes.
- Edible Seeds: Okra pods contain small, round seeds that are entirely edible. When cooked, they add a unique texture to dishes.
How to Prepare Okra to Minimize the Slime
To make the most of your okra dish and reduce its slimy characteristics, follow these simple steps when preparing the pods. Begin by gently washing the okra under cool, running water. Then, carefully trim both ends of each pod without cutting into the seed chamber, which is where most of the slime resides. Also slightly trim around the head of the pod to remove the thicker part of the skin. Some people prefer to soak the cut okra in a mixture of vinegar or lemon juice and water for about 15-30 minutes before cooking. This process can help further reduce the sliminess. Once your okra is prepped, it’s ready to embrace the rich Moroccan flavours that await it.
History of Okra
Okra has a fascinating history. It’s believed to have originated in Africa and travelled to different parts of the world through the slave trade. The vegetable quickly became popular in various cultures for its versatility and adaptability to different climates.
Ingredients Needed for this Moroccan Style Okra Recipe:
Before we dive into the preparation, let’s take a quick look at the ingredients:
- 1 large onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 ripe tomatoes
- Freshly chopped parsley and coriander
- Dried crushed red pepper or red Aleppo pepper flakes
- 2 green chillies (adjust for your preferred level of heat)
- Salt to taste
- Ground cumin
- Olive oil
- 1/2 kilo of okra (lady fingers)
The Art of Preparing Moroccan-Style Okra
1. Prepare the Okra:
- Start by washing the okra and trimming their ends.
- If you prefer a milder taste, you can soak them in vinegar for about 15 minutes.
2. Sauté the Aromatics:
- Heat a generous splash of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
- Add finely chopped onions and minced garlic. Sauté until they turn translucent and aromatic.
3. Spice it Up:
- Now, it’s time to add the Moroccan flair. Sprinkle ground cumin, non chilli Aleppo pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt to taste. Stir well to infuse the spices with the onions and garlic.
4. The Tomato Tango:
- Peel and dice the tomatoes and toss them into the pan. Let them cook until they begin to soften and release their juices.
5. Lady Fingers Join the Party:
- Gently place the prepared okra into the pan with the aromatic tomato mixture. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan; you want the okra to cook evenly.
6. Add a Dash of Heat:
- For those who enjoy a bit of spice, add some finely sliced green chillies. Adjust the quantity to suit your heat tolerance.
7. Simmer to Perfection:
- Lower the heat, cover the pan, and allow the okra to simmer for about 20-25 minutes. They should become tender and flavourful as they soak up the spices.
8. Garnish with Freshness:
- Just before serving, sprinkle freshly chopped parsley or coriander over the okra. This adds a burst of freshness and colour to your dish.
Serving and Enjoying
Moroccan okra can be enjoyed as a side dish, but they’re also substantial enough to serve as a main course when paired with rice, meat or bread. The combination of spices, tomatoes, and okra creates a mouthwatering medley of flavours, making it a delightful addition to any Moroccan-inspired feast.
Whether you’re new to Moroccan cuisine or a seasoned enthusiast, this okra (lady’s fingers) recipe offers a delectable taste of North African flavours. So, roll up your sleeves and enjoy creating this Moroccan okra recipe from the comfort of your home and let me know how it goes!
Moroccan Style Okra
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 garlics grated or crushed
- 2 tomatoes peeled and chopped
- 1 cup fresh parsley washed and chopped
- 1 cup fresh coriander washed and chopped
- 1 tsp red Aleppo pepper flakes
- 2 green chillies
- 1 tsp salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tsp cumin
- 4 tblsp olive oil
- ½ kilo okra/lady fingers (washed and ends trimmed but not completely sliced off.
- Soak the okra for at least an hour in a large bowl filled with some water, white vinegar, and 1 tablespoon salt.
- Gather and prepare all the other ingredients.
- Drain the okra from the soaking liquid but do not rinse the pods, just pat dry with a towel.
- Heat a large pot with some olive oil over medium-high heat and add the onion and saute until translucent, for about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, herbs, spices and chopped tomatoes and saute until fragrant for another 5-6 minutes.
- Stir in the okra and cover to simmer over medium-low heat until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the okra.
- Be sure to monitor your liquid levels in the pot and add a bit of water if needed. The consistency shouldn't be too liquidy nor too thick, just saucy enough to dip in.
- Check the seasoning and adjust to your taste and when ready serve hot, topped with some freshly cut parsley or coriander.