Isn’t it funny how traditional foods your mom made as a kid didn’t appeal to you much but now that you’ve grown, moved away and have a house and family of your own, you long for those delicious homemade dishes? Well, that is the story of my life!

Today I am going to share with you my mama’s okra recipe. Okra is commonly made in many parts of the Middle East as a stew with tomato sauce and chunks of meat. Although I love it that way, my mom makes it a little bit differently and my husband fell in love with it once I introduced it to him.

What you’ll need…

  • 1 rectangular lasagna dish or pyrex dish
  • 1-2 bags frozen Okra (you can find this at your local Arabic store)
  • 1-1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 2 cups rice (I like to mix half basmati & half jasmine)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 3 medium-sized tomatoes
  • 3 bell peppers (preferably colored)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • vegetable/mazola/canola oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 2 tbs mixed (Arabic) spices/بهار مشكل (you can find this at your local Arabic store)
  • 1 tbs ground cardamom / هيل مطحون

Let’s start cooking!

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1. Pre-heat your oven to 400° F.

2. Dice the onions as finely as possible. I like to use my mini food processor when I need anything diced up super fine.

3. In a large skillet, heat up some oil and cook the garlic and onions until the onions are translucent.

4. Pour the ground beef over the garlic and onions and cook together until the meat is thoroughly cooked. Add the salt, pepper, ground cardamom and 1 tbs mixed spices to the meat mixture half way through.

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5. While the meat is cooking, heat up some oil in a deep sauce pan and fry the okra. You don’t want to deep fry it, you just want to get it lightly browned. Set aside the meat mixture, and fried okra.
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6. In a large skillet (I reuse the one I used for the meat), heat up some oil (I reuse some of the leftover oil from frying the okra) and sauté the bell peppers. Add 1 tbs of mixed spices. Be careful not to over cook the bell peppers, you still want them to be a little crunchy. Set aside.

7. Now that all of your main ingredients are cooked, layer them up! It doesn’t matter what order you put them in, but I like to start with spreading out the ground beef mixture. Next, I spread out the sautéed bell peppers. Then the okra. On top of the okra, spread the fresh tomatoes. Pour the can of diced tomatoes evenly over the contents of the dish. Add some water to the can (about half full) and pour it over the dish.

  • You can add extra spices, salt, or pepper to each layer if you feel like it needs more.

8. Cook on the bottom rack for about 30 minutes or until the sauce starts to bubble.

  • You can cook the rice while you’re waiting.
  • Some people like to eat this dish with pita bread instead of rice. If I’m having this meal for leftovers I will usually eat it with rice one day, and with pita bread the next.

okra9 2Enjoy! 

You can also add a side of plain yogurt or salad.

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Happy cooking!

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