Okra Stew | Zoe Adjonyoh
Okra is an ingredient commonly used in west Africa, as well as in my restaurant kitchen and home. As a child a slimy okra stew was like a bowl of snotty porridge. When I started Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen I looked for new ways to incorporate okra into dishes, one being Okra tempura. This dish demands super fresh crisp okra—sometimes someone over orders and we have a surplus.
Okra stays fresh uncut for about 7-10 days when refrigerated, but doesn’t last forever. When you see okra reduced to one pound a bowl at the grocer’s, looking a little peaky, and slightly bruised plum or beef tomatoes in the discount bin, there is still life in them yet. So grab that bargain and cook this leftover Okra Stew. It’s one of my absolute favourites and of the most traditional Ghanaian dishes I cook.
Zoe Adjonyoh’s leftover Okra Stew
A famous West African dish, it traditionally calls for finely chopped and separately boiled okra, to create a very slimy sauce. I’m not a fan of slimy okra, so instead I slice mine slightly less than 1cm (1/2 inch) thick—the smaller you cut okra, the more mucilage in the pods it releases, a process only further developed by boiling. So by adding the sliced okra straight to the stew, you can avoid slimy okra soup.
- 200ml (7fl oz) sustainable red palm oil or carotene oil (can be substituted for coconut, rapeseed or sunflower also)
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp extra hot curry powder
- 1 tsp cooking salt
- 2 medium red onions, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped or grated
- 7.5cm (3-inch) piece fresh root ginger, finely grated (un-peeled if organic)
- 1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chilli, deseeded and diced
- 750g ripe plum tomatoes, cubed or blended
- 1 tablespoon tomato purée
- 250ml (9fl oz) good-quality vegetable stock
- 500g (1lb 2 oz) okra, trimmed and sliced
- 150ml (5fl oz) water
Chopped Coriander and sliced Anaheim chillies to garnish
Photo by Nassima Rothaker
1 | Heat the oil on low–medium heat until it melts (palm oil has a low smoke point, so be careful not to let it burn), add the onion and sauté gently for a few minutes until translucent. Add the spices, garlic, ginger and Scotch bonnet and stir well, then sauté for a further 5 minutes.
2 | Cook in the tomato purée stirring well, then pour in the vegetable stock to de glaze the pan, reduce the heat to low, and then add the tomatoes and salt. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes until they start to lose their tartness.
3 | Add the sliced okra to the pot with the measurement water, stir though once or twice and replace the lid and simmer for a further 15-20 minutes until the okra is just tender. Season to taste.
This dish is traditionally served in a bowl with banku on a side plate along with a finger bowl.
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