Okra doesn’t appeal to a lot of people, and it unfairly has a bad rep for what people perceive as its “slimy” texture when cooked, but truthfully, good okra is delicious and versatile. In the Middle East, okra is smaller in size than its American counterparts, roughly about the size of a thimble. Middle Eastern immigrants are often surprised by the long and woody okra found in North America.
In Egypt, okra is more often than not cooked with baharat spices and a chunky tomato sauce, and it's delicious and considered such a staple of weekly dinners that most Egyptians associate it as comfort food. Because of its soft texture, it’s oftentimes made for children to eat, particularly young children teething and in need of soft food that’s healthy yet easy to chew.
This recipe is essentially a stir fry flavored with a good pinch of spices and our lemon tahini dressing but if served cool, makes also for a good salad. It can be a mezze, or made in large batches to serve as a main during a hot summer day when you want something quick and easy to prepare, but yet filling and satisfying. If you want to serve it cold, prepare it ahead of time and let it cool in the fridge. If you want to serve it warm, serve it straight after drizzling the stir fried okra with the dressing. You can even add other ingredients to this recipe such as aubergine, carrots, zucchini or cauliflower if you want to add some more textures and flavors.
Middle Eastern okra can be found in Arab supermarkets in the frozen aisle section. We’d recommend tracking down Middle Eastern okra because, when cooked, it yields a delicate flavor and is soft and smooth on one’s tongue. You can use frozen okra for this recipe, just defrost an hour or so ahead of time so that it can cook easily.