Khoresh Bamieh comes originally from Khuzestan province in southern Iran, where it is traditionally prepared with a tamarind sauce. This variety, which is more common elsewhere in Iran, substitutes tomato sauce for the the less well known tamarind.
Okra, or Bamieh in Farsi, has its own share of controversy. “Oh, not another one”, you say! Okra’s flavor profile is often compared to that of an eggplant, and it has both fans and enemies, with strong opinions on both sides of the fence. It can have an unpleasant texture when not properly treated in the cooking process: it has an unfortunate tendency to become slippery and gooey in texture. Can you tell that I am trying very hard to avoid saying the word “slimy”?
But with a pinch of knowledge and spoonful of care, one can overcome this challenge. When okra is cut and its cell walls are exposed, it produces a very sticky substance which tends to be off-putting. So to avoid this scenario altogether, buy them small, and cook them whole. If you must slice them, make sure that you do so into larger pieces. Then cook them with sufficient oil and at higher temperature, don’t overcrowd them in the pan, and don’t stir them too much.
Whether you fry the okra or roast them or incorporate them in a stew, be sure to cook this misunderstood vegetable properly (approximately 15-20 minutes) so as to keep the texture from misbehaving.
- 1 pound whole okra, approximately 20 pieces, stems trimmed
- 8 tablespoons oil, divided
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 pound beef, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon turmeric, ground
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper, ground
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup water, more as needed
- 1 teaspoon salt, adjust to your taste
- 2-4 tablespoons Ghooreh (unripe sour grapes), or lemon juice as a substitute
- In a large frying pan, saute the okra with 6 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Stir gently as needed, but avoid over stirring.
- Once the okra has been sauteed on all sides and has turned a dark golden color, remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and saute the onions over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
- Add the beef, garlic, turmeric, pepper and tomato paste, increase the heat to medium-high, and saute for 2 minutes.
- Add 1 cup of water, reduce the heat, and cook the stew over low heat for 75 minutes or until the meat is nearly fork tender.
- Return the sauteed okra to the stew, add salt and Ghooreh.
- Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until the okra has fully cooked.
- Adjust the liquid level as needed. The stew should be moist but not watery.
- Serve the stew with steamed saffron basmati rice.