Thursday, July 27, 2006

Vegetarian Bamiyeh bi-Zait (Lebanese Okra with Tomatoes and Olive Oil)


Tonight, we are eating Lebanese food. Please pray for the people of that beautiful land, which is being bombed off the face of the earth. Beirut, the Paris of the Middle East, is once again leveled by Israeli bombs, which fall equally on Christian as well as Moslem targets. Contrary to what the media portrays, not all Lebanese are moslems - many are Christian (Orthodox, Maronites and Melkites), and not all moslems are members of Hezbollah. Pray for peace.

Its been very hot here in Georgia, and I haven't done much cooking for the past few weeks. Tonight though, as I was walking through Harveys (a very unsatisfactory grocery store, by the way) I saw an excellent deal on okra, so I bought just a pound, which is plenty for two people. My ex-husband is Lebanese and I learned a number of wonderful Lebanese recipes over the years, but truth be told, he hates okra, so I only cooked it once in 14 years of marriage. That's how I found out he hates it. But I love it, and dear daughter is ok with it, so its bami over rice for us tonight.

This is also my contribution to ARF/5-A-Day over at Sweetnicks.

Bamiyeh bi Zait

1 lb fresh okra
2 small or 1 large onion, halved and sliced thinly
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil - the flavor really matters in this recipe
2 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped coarsely, or a 16 oz can of chopped tomatoes in juice
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp veggie bouillion (or chicken bouillion)
dash of cayenne
1/2 tsp mixed Arabic spices or allspice or apple pie spice
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro
up to 1/2 C water
juice of half a lemon (optional)

Wash the okra, dry well, and cut the tops off but otherwise leave whole. Set aside. Saute the onions in the oil until golden, add garlic and okra, allspice, cilantro, cayenne and continue sauteing until the okra is slightly golden. Add the tomatoes, water, beans, bouillion and cilantro. Stir everything until well mixed. Cover tightly and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes until okra is cooked. Uncover, stir in lemon juice and taste for salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered for another 5 minutes until everything is well cooked and juicy.

Serve this over Arabic rice (riz bi-sh'ayriyyeh), with salad on the side.

Dear Daughter gives this five stars.

Notes: I like this without the lemon juice best. I think that lemon with tomato can bring out the acidity of the tomato more than I like, so I'm very careful about that combination. Many excellent Lebanese cooks use tomato paste mixed with water, but I like fresh chopped or canned tomatoes much better. Once again, the bouillion provides much of the salt flavor, so check for saltiness at the end of the cook time, and definitely AFTER adding the lemon juice if you are using it - the sourness of the lemon juice makes salt taste saltier. Because I didn't use the lemon juice, I ended up adding a scant half teaspoon of salt at the end, and another dash of cayenne as well.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

i just made this thanks to your recipe and it is absolutely fabulous. thank u so much for posting those nice words and this beautiful recipe.

Anonymous said...

I grew up on this recipe but whenever I ask my mom, how'd you make it. she tell me, "oh a little of this and a little of bahr and about a hand full of beans" so its nice to have this. And the words are much appreciated, a lot of people have a misconception about Lebanon.

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