I am so happy I figured out how to cook okra. I’ve tried a few times (never following a recipe) and experienced very meh results. So this time, I decided to strictly follow a recipe – at least for the okra. It needed to be perfect – tender, but crisp and NOT SLIMY. The okra was the best part of the dish. Thank god.
I made this stew on the night I received my CSA bounty. I was just dying to eat those little green bullets. So I made a big batch, ate a big bowl, and divided the rest into 3 portions for later in the next few weeks – 2 for the freezer. I’ll be happy that’s there when I’m busy and want something easy, but still homemade and okra-y.
I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of this recipe. I love the deep and satisfying flavors of Africa and the Middle East. I wanted to make something relatively simple, and most importantly – wanted to use the okra and didn’t want gumbo. Stews are great because they are rich and flavorful, and often just made in one pot. But honestly, my favorite thing is that I can do all the dishes while it’s cooking so by the time I eat, the kitchen is already clean. What a pleasure to not have to clean afterwards, when it’s ice cream time. The ingredient list looks long, but I promise it is not hard and very worth it.
- 1 pound fresh, whole okra
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs, either way)
- 1 large onion, cut in half through the stem and sliced thinly
- 1 can chickpeas, or 2 cups cooked
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- a pinch of cayenne
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 4 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press and mixed with a pinch of salt
- 1 can diced tomatoes, drained and juices saved
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste diluted in 1 cup water
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley
- freshly ground pepper
- yogurt for serving (optional)
Trim the stems from the okra and place in a large bowl with the vinegar. Sprinkle with 1tsp salt, mix well and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Heat half of the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken and stir, then spread evenly in the pot. Let sit 1 minute without stirring. Then stir, and cook another 2-3 minutes until all sides are browned. Remove chicken to a plate. Lower heat to medium-low and add the rest of the olive oil and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened – about 3 minutes. Add coriander, fennel, turmeric, paprika, and cayenne and cook another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and salt mixture and cook until fragrant. Add chopped tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste mixture and juice from tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste.
Return the chicken to the pot, add cinnamon stick, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 35 minutes.
Drain okra and rinse thoroughly. Add chickpeas and stir. Place okra on top of the chicken in the pot, but do not stir. Squeeze lemon juice on top. Cover and simmer for another 25 minutes. Taste a piece of okra and get ready to be amazed. It should be just tender. Give the pot a good stir to mix everything. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Serve with rice or another whole grain. Add a dollop of yogurt to each bowl if desired.
Other nutrients this dish is high in:
- Vitamin C – anti-oxidant, cold and inflammation fighting
- Lycopene – cancer-fighting phytochemical
Emily Van Eck, MS, RDN specializes in intuitive eating, mindfulness-based eating practices, embodiment with food and movement, and healing from years of weight-bias and disordered eating. She helps womxn find balance, consistency, and peace with their eating habits so they can feel confident to get outta their heads and into their bodies. Emily is a registered dietitian and certified intuitive eating counselor with a master’s degree in nutrition science. Read more about her here.