Moroccan okra in tomato sauce - Mloukhiya b' Maticha

I always considered Gombos or okra to be a bit of a weird vegetable because of its slimy inside. There is no other way of describing it. During all my childhood, my father never failed to give me a lesson about its benefits whenever this green thing was served over dinner. I just never worked.

As we grow older, our taste buds change and mature. We tend to take wise (r) decisions. Eating okra was one of them. Interestingly enough, I just ate the Moroccan okra after trying the Indian one which I found more acceptable for my palate.

How much of the tomato sauce is needed here is a personal choice
Moroccan okra tend to be smaller and chubbier than the tall version I commonly find across the world, it's also slimier (that word again!), which makes it amazingly healthier and definitely a good vegetable for your digestive system. It needs particular attention during the cooking process as it can break down and create a mess..It does not need much time to cook.


Fortunately, there are ways of handling it and even storing it to benefit from it all year around.

Steamed al dente and cleaned, okra is ready to be frozen
It's worth mentioning that okra in Morocco is called Mulukhiyyah ,Mouloukhia. However, like many things in North Africa and the Arab world, once you pass the Moroccan border, the same word refers to something completely different; a rather leafy staple which is the jute leave. Our national Mloukhiya is called bamia in the rest of the Arab world.

Mloukhia b' maticha is very appreciated in the Fassi cuisine (from Fez). It has its limited season but like my mother, women steam it for a very short time then freeze it to last longer. I reckon that Syrian women tend to dry it, thread it to form a long chain then hang it in the kitchen or in the larder.

This cooked Moroccan salad is easy to prepare, it's just a matter of sauteing chopped tomatoes with a bit of chermoula then adding in the okra for a few minutes..How easy is that.


The same okra in tomato served in a different occasion, only more tomato-ey

Ingredients
Prep: 10 -15 min - Cooking: 35 - 40 min

  • 300 - 400 g of fresh okra
  • 2 to 3 medium-size tomatoes, peeled and seeds discarded, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped or sliced (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 tbsp of sweet ground paprika 
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 3 tbsps of good extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsps of coriander, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of flat leaves parsley, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Chili powder to taste




Preparation

Wash okra, cut the stems off leaving the "hat" bit intact.

Method 1: cooking separately

In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add a bit of salt and all the okra. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a skillet, sweat the onion then add the garlic, tomatoes, spices  and herbs. Simmer for 10 minutes. You may add a bit of water to make a sauce (about 10 cl)
Stir in okra and cook for about 5-7  minutes. Adjust the seasoning.

Method 2: one pot cooking (omit the onion)

Over medium heat, saute drained okra in olive oil for a couple of minutes to seal it. Add the rest of the ingredients and a bit of water and bring to a boil, covered. Cook for 10 - 15 minutes.

Remove the lid, reduce the heat and let simmer for a few more minutes until okra is cooked.

Once you feel that okra has become soft, stir delicately to avoid breaking it.

Serving

You could drizzle it with a good olive oil just before serving.

Serve this cooked salad warm or at room temperature.

The okra salad keeps well in the fridge for up to 2 days.

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