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Egyptian Okra Stew with Ground Beef

This is a simple yet healthy and flavorful dish served in many Egyptian households. The okra takes center stage, but the rest of the ingredients balance and uplift it to star status.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
Total Time1 hr 25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Egyptian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Home Is A Kitchen

Equipment

  • Large pan with high sides or pot
  • Knife
  • Spatula or large spoon
  • Teaspoon measurement
  • Cup measurement

Ingredients

  • 14 ounces baby okra (size 0) 14 ounces is roughly 400 grams. If you can't find baby okra or size 0 okra, then sliced okra will also work, but it may be more "slimy" than baby okra. Middle Eastern markets will often carry baby okra in the frozen section. Frozen is great, but if you have fresh that works too.
  • 1 pound 85/15 ground beef or chopped stew beef/lamb This dish is traditionally made with lamb, however, ground beef is often easier to find, cheaper, and works very well.
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion Roughly half of a medium sized onion
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp ground corriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin This is optional. It adds a nice underlying flavor, but isn't necessary.
  • 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper This is totally optional, but it adds a little bit of heat.
  • 8 oz plain tomato sauce This is usually one small can.
  • 1.75 cups water or chicken broth The water will be added in 3/4 cup increments throughout cooking

Instructions

  • In a pan with high sides, add a tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil and bring the pan up to medium to medium-high heat.
  • Add the raw ground beef to the pan and start to break it apart with a spatula while browning it. Continue until most of the liquid cooks off. If there is too much liquid (which can happen if the pan was not hot enough or not large enough), then carefully pour some off and continue cooking. If you are using beef stew meat or lamb, then brown all sides of the meat, but don't cook it all the way through. Also, keep in mind that you may need to simmer the dish twice as long in order to get the meat tender.
    Home Is A Kitchen - Egyptian Okra Stew Recipe - Bamia - Ground Beef
  • With the meat browned, add roughly a half cup of chopped sweet onion to the meat and continue cooking. Stir and mix everything together.
    Home Is A Kitchen - Egyptian Okra Stew Recipe - Bamia - Ground Beef and Onions
  • When the onions start to become softer or a little more translucent (after a couple of minutes), add the two cloves of crushed garlic (I like to use a garlic press for this) to the mix. You can add it directly, or you can push some of the meat and onions aside and add the garlic directly to the cleared space in the pan to let it reach a golden brown color before mixing it in. Just be careful not to burn the garlic.
  • Next add the two teaspoons of ground coriander, the teaspoon of salt, the 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper. Add the optional 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin and the 1/4 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper if you want as well. Stir the spices in well and let them cook a bit (a minute or two) with the meat to bring out their aromas.
  • Add the okra to the pan and mix everything well. If using frozen okra, it's ok to add it directly to the pan frozen. If frozen, stir the ingredients every minute or so until there is no more frost visible on the okra.
    Home Is A Kitchen - Egyptian Okra Stew Recipe - Bamia - Okra added
  • Add the 8 oz of plain tomato sauce to the pan next and mix everything very well. Let all of the ingredients cook together another minute while the sauce sizzles and caramelizes slightly.
  • Then add 3/4 cup of water or chicken broth to the pot and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and make sure there is enough liquid to keep a simmer going, but there's no need for everything to be fully submerged.
    Home Is A Kitchen - Egyptian Okra Stew Recipe - Bamia - Simmering
  • After 30 minutes of simmering, stir everything and add 3/4 to 1 cup more of water or broth as needed to bring the liquid back to where it was at the start of the cooking process. Then simmer for another 30-45 minutes. If using stew meat instead of ground, then you will probably need to simmer for another 1.5 hours to tenderize the meat. Just keep adding liquid every 30 minutes as needed.
  • When the okra is easily crushed against the side of the pan with a fork, the dish is ready. You want the okra to retain its shape and stand up to stirring, but soft enough that a light push from a fork will break it apart.
    Home Is A Kitchen - Egyptian Baby Okra Stew with ground beef - Recipe - Bamia
  • The okra is ready to serve immediately. Serve it plain, over rice, or dip some pita or crust bread into it and eat with your hands!