I don’t know if everyone has such fond memories of their mama’s food, but every now and then something happens that reminds me of a dish my mum used to cook and waves of happy times come flooding back .. This time I owe it to NETFLIGHTS invitation which made me cook, photograph and write down this good old recipe, not just that, but also share it with the world.
Continue reading to know more about this special invitation I have received ..
One of mama’s dishes that I crave quite often, especially when the temperatures drop down like it is right now in Australia, is Okra with meat. we call it in Egypt ‘ bamya bel lahma’.
It’s definitely one of the classic dishes in Egypt. Even Egyptians claim they were the first people to cultivate ‘Bamya’ (the Arabic for Okra) many many years ago along the Nile River. ‘don’t quote me on that one .. I’d like to believe it’s true, so let it be’.
For you who don’t really know what ‘Okra’ is, it’s a green edible seed pod, commonly eaten as a vegetable. It has a unique slimy texture which helps in making delicious stews using tomato-based broth, seriously delicious!! You could find ‘fresh’ Okra in grocery stores, in such case I would advise you to pick the smallest size okra you could find, (small ones are usually softer and more delicious, my mum says), you could also find frozen Okra in most middle eastern food stores and those would always be the small baby ones, they pick them for you.
Some people cook okra with beef others with chicken, but today i’m going to show you how I cook it with a beautifully slow cooked lamb shoulder. The slow cooking of lamb releases tones of flavours in its juices, which then the okra braises in and soaks up. Ok, I’m honestly salivating right now!
There are 2 ways to serve and eat this dish, one (my favourite) is with pieces of whole meal flat bread, using your hands to soak the bread in the delicious tomato-based sauce and scoop out the okra and meat, which is quite an exciting and down to earth way to eat it. Or, the second (less messy) is serving white rice and vermicelli on the side. I have included pictures of both ways here.
Before we start on the recipe I would like to share this good news with you 🙂
Few weeks ago I received this email saying that I was invited by one of the most popular travel companies NETFLIGHTS to be part of their latest campaign ‘Taste Of My Country’… O my gosh!! They had chosen only 10 bloggers to each contribute by sharing a recipe which represents the cuisine of their home land and those recipes would then be featured in their online recipe magazine ‘A Taste Of My Country’ to show their travellers some of the best recipes from all around the world. How exciting!!
I was thrilled to receive this invitation, and honoured to be given the opportunity to wave my Egyptian flag on one of their magazine pages. The magazine is now live, so please check it out here, there is a couple of delicious recipes by the other contributors in this campaign, which I personally want to try out.
Which dish would YOU choose to represent your own home land? share your thoughts with me here in the comments below, or may be just let me know what you think about this very Egyptian dish I made ?
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have a great weekend!
- 1 lamb shoulder, bone in (about 1.6 kg)
- 600g fresh okra (smallest size you can find)
- 2 medium carrots, finely grated.
- 1 large celery stick with leaves attached
- 1 passata (plain tomato cooking sauce) bottle, 720 mls
- 2 fresh ripe tomatoes, diced.
- 1 cup filtered water
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons sea salt, extra to taste.
- 1 teaspoon raw unrefined sugar
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 handful fresh coriander for garnish
- few lime or lemon wedges
- cooked rice or whole meal pitta bread
- Lamb shoulder marinate (see below)
- 10 garlic cloves
- 1 medium red onion, diced coarsely
- 2 long whole red chillies (deseeded)
- 1 whole green chilli (deseeded)
- half a bunch coriander leaves and stems, washed and chopped coarsely
- 2 teaspoons mild paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon raw unrefined sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 120 mls of extra virgin olive oil
- Remove lamb shoulder from the fridge at least half an hour before cooking (at room temperature).
- preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
- prepare marinate by following the next 3 steps
- add chillies, garlic, and chopped coriander to a food processor, blend to a paste.
- add paprika, cumin, coriander and sugar and blend for a few more seconds.
- add apple cider vinegar and salt, start blending again while drizzling in the olive oil slowly through the blenders opening, you will end up with an oily brownish paste, your marinate is now ready.
- add half the amount of marinate to a large bowl, add grated carrots, tomato cooking sauce, tomatoes, water, salt and sugar, stir to combine.
- place the lamb shoulder on a large baking paper sheet, insert a small sharp knife deeply in lamb flesh in 5 different spots to help marinate penetrate the meat while cooking.
- pour the other reserved half of marinate over the lamb shoulder and massage well.
- now, transfer the lamb shoulder to a large roasting tin,and pour the prepared tomatoes and carrots mixture over the lamb shoulder in the tin, add bay leaves and the celery stick.
- cover the lamb loosely with a sheet of baking paper, then cover the tin tightly with a sheet of foil, making sure no steam is able to escape.
- reduce oven heat to 160 degrees Celsius and cook for 4.5 hours
- half an hour before lamb that (after 4 hours) prepare your okra' bamya'
- trim each of the head of each pod with a small sharp knife making sure not to chop the whole head off (as shown in the picture above), discard the trimmed crown, rinse okra, drain and lay them on a tea towel and rub gently to dry.
- in a frying pan, warm 5 tablespoons extra olive oil, add okra and stir on low to medium heat for few mins, until golden in color, set aside.
- after 4.5 hours of cooking lamb, remove from oven, uncover and discard only the baking paper.
- spoon okra into the lamb's delicious sauce in the tin, add half a cup of water and a pinch of salt.
- Increase oven temp. to 180 degrees Celsius and cook for a further 30-45 mins depending on the okra's size ( full time if it's a bigger size).
- you can turn the grill on for the last 5-10 mins of cooking until the top is beautifully colored.
- remove tin from oven, rest for 15 mins. check your seasoning, add another pinch of salt if needed.
- just before serving, squeeze some lemon or lime juice on top, garnish with coriander leaves.
- serve this dish with whole meal pitta bread, or with rice.