Bamia (Okra with Tomatoes and Chickpeas)

Bamia (Okra with Tomatoes and Chickpeas)

This is an Egyptian vegetarian dish that I absolutely love!  I’m a big okra  and chickpea fan.  When I can get it, I use fresh okra, but frozen okra works just as well.  Using frozen okra and canned chickpeas instead of cooking my own makes this a very quick meal. I use two cans of chickpeas (drained), but three cans would be good too.  I don’t usually have parsley around, so I use cilantro instead.  I serve Bamia with Basmati rice.

Bamia (Okra with Tomatoes and Chickpeas)

2 cups chickpeas, soaked overnight
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/4 lb. frozen Middle Eastern okra (or fresh small okra)
1 28-oz. can plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 cup vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley

1. Place chickpeas in a medium saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer until chickpeas are tender, 20–30 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Cool beans in cooking liquid. Transfer beans and liquid to a large bowl and store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.

2. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add okra and cook, stirring once or twice, until it turns bright green, about 3 minutes.

3. Stir in tomatoes and cumin and cook for 1–2 minutes. Add stock and lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover, reduce heat to
medium-low, and cook until okra is soft, about 35 minutes.

4. Drain chickpeas. Add to okra mixture, cover, and cook just until chickpeas are heated through, 5–10 minutes. (Chickpeas should still hold their shape.) Add parsley, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and serve warm with rice, if desired.

This recipe was first published in Saveur in November/December 1996

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