Friday, July 02, 2010

Arabian Okra-Bamia

I've become a big fan of Middle Eastern cooking these days. The flavors of olive oil, garlic, lemon, cumin, coriander, and fresh mint can just be magical. The origins of this dish came from Claudia Roden's "A Book of Middle Eastern Food" originally published in 1968-my copy still has its original $3.95 price sticker still attached. I bought my copy used much later, in 1968 I was still in high school struggling with chemistry and Latin way before I decided I'd really just rather cook.

At Farmer's market this one farmer had his okra sitting right next to his beautiful yellow wax beans, so I bought some of each. Claudia's recipe contains just okra, onion, and tomatoes-I just decided to add the wax beans. I believe this would qualify as a "mezze" in Arabic or the equivalent of "tapas" or what has just become "small plates" on alot of American menus.

1 pound fresh okra

1 pound fresh yellow wax beans

1 medium white onion, sliced

3 cloves of garlic, sliced

2 large tomatoes, skinned and rough chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Juice of two lemons

Salt and pepper to your liking

Chopped fresh mint, parsley, and cilantro (about 1/4 cup total)

Blanch the okra and beans separately in boiling salted water until they are just done and still crisp-tender.

In a saute pan large enough to hold all of the ingredients, heat the oil and add the coriander, garlic, and onions; let these flavorings sizzle a minute or two-do not let them brown.

Add the drained vegetables and the tomatoes, simmer over very low heat for 10 minutes.

Off the heat, add the lemon juice and taste for salt and pepper. Fold in most of the fresh herbs, reserving some to garnish the top of the salad.

Best served at room temperature. Really good made one day ahead and refrigerated-just make sure it comes to room temperature before you serve it.

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