Dear Foodies & Friends,
One of the things I love most about the weekend is looking forward to a big, cozy Sunday dinner with my family. We love big, bold flavours, and its usually a meal that’ll ensure everyone’s knocked out early. 😛 Back when I still lived at home, weekends were the only time I got to experiment with my cooking. I remember passing boring hours at school (hello, math 😛 ) especially on Fridays dreaming about all the food I wanted to eat/make. It’s something I still do in college, on a much more regular basis, although this is more because my passion for food has increased exponentially, rather than the fact that classes are boring.
Today’s recipe is one of my Sunday favourites. It’s a Middle Eastern stew originally made of slow cooked lamb and okra in a tantalising tomato base. I first had this dish while out with some friends and it absolutely blew my mind! This stew was hidden away in an obscure corner of the menu and I’m so glad I found it. Usually when you go to a Lebanese or other Middle Eastern restaurant here, the menu is pretty standard- shawarmas, wraps, hummus, falafel, well you get the picture. Don’t get me wrong, I love all those things and so much more, but I crave more authentic dishes that aren’t as commercially well known. I know that there’s SO much more delicious food out there to experience that we don’t know about, because we aren’t exposed to them. This is something I feel particularly passionate about, because I find that when people talk about Indian food in other countries, they’re most likely thinking of butter chicken/tikka or paneer. As a South Indian whose family hails from all over India, I can tell you that there are SO many other scrumptious things we have to offer. Indian food is all so different depending on where you come from and I’m hoping that in time more restaurants will start reflecting and respecting that diversity.
Woooh! Let’s get back to this delectable dish! The original stew had wonderfully tender pieces of meat, but my mom usually prefers vegetarian food so I omitted the lamb in this recipe. It’s best served with some crusty bread (preferably homemade so you have that heavenly smell wafting around) with a little olive oil drizzled over the top, or basmati rice. My family loved this dinner so I made it again when we had guests over, and it was a huge hit! I hope you love it as much as we do 🙂 Here’s the recipe:
- So good you want to lick the bowl clean!
- 500 gms of pureed tomatoes
- 500 gms of okra
- 1 Large onion
- 3 Cloves of garlic
- 1/4th teaspoon of allspice
- Coriander powder (one teaspoon)
- Cumin Powder (half a teaspoon)
- Fennel seeds (optional)
- Chili flakes/paprika (optional, but I love the kick!)
- Half a teaspoon of pepper
- Salt to taste
- Olive oil
STEP 1: Cut off the tops of the okra, and slice in half vertically. This allows more of the sauce to penetrate. Lightly fry it in olive oil until slightly browned, then keep aside until later.
STEP 2: In a shallow pan, sauté some chopped onions, garlic, and fennel seeds. When the onions begin to caramelize, add in the spices and cook until lightly golden-brown.
STEP 3: Add the fried okra and tomato puree, cover and cook on a low heat for at least 20 minutes to half an hour so that the flavours have time to meld. Sprinkle a handful of chopped fresh cilantro on top and serve with crusty bread or rice (the best option is of course, both 😀 ) Et voilà! Bon Appétite!
- Homemade Freshly Baked Goodness