|a spoonful of zeytinyağlı bamya or okra in olive oil|
|a sweet display of home-grown okra at Ayvacık market|
Now here’s a good word: these little pods are described as being mucilaginous – the word sounds so much like its meaning: full of characteristic slime or ‘goo’. Here in Turkey we like to minimize this as much as possible by careful preparation but not all cuisines are the same: apparently you can thinly slice the okra and cook for a long time and this mucilage will dissolve.
So done the Turkish way, okra is one of the fiddliest vegetables to prepare! Because of this, I don’t buy them often but when I do, the family is ecstatic. The trick is to snip off the end and then with a very sharp knife, cut round the end taking great care not to cut too much otherwise the slime will ooze out. Many people don’t like okra dishes for this reason: they find that slimey consistency off-putting. This recipe is an olive-oil version and therefore eaten cold, but okra can certainly be eaten hot as well.
|just like sharpening a pencil|
|here are some big ones which I resisted
for the above reason
Prepare the okra, wash and place in a bowl with the juice of 1 lemon and cover with cold water. Put aside.
Use a shallow, wide pan ie not a typical saucepan, and arrange the onion slices over the bottom of it. On top, place half the tomato slices.
Drain the okra and arrange them carefully on top of the tomatoes.
Finally, place the remaining tomato slices over the okra and add the salt, sugar, olive oil and the juice of the second lemon. Place a dish on top so that they acquire the traditional shape ie slightly flattened.
|notice the sugar lump on the left|
|with the plate on top|
Cover with a lid and cook over a gentle flame for about 30 mins. Taste to make sure the okra are soft. Let cool in the pan, remove the plate and if possible, serve from that pan. Make sure your guests see the dish before you disturb the shape!
|zeytinyağlı bamya or okra in olive oil|
NB Additional water is not necessary as the juice of the tomatoes plus the other liquids will be sufficient.