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Okra stew with butter rice

"What's that?!"

That's what I always hear when I serve this delicious stew to friends who don't know okra. "These are ladyfingers," I always say - followed by puzzled looks. "Bamia?" I ask hopefully. Again, perplexed looks. "Okrasho... Oh, they are delicious vegetable pods, just try them."

I bet you that okra will soon be very popular in this country too. The pods of the mallow plant okra have hardly any fat, but a high proportion of fibre - very healthy and good for the digestion.

They taste mild to very slightly sour and have a tender to slightly woody texture and consistency, depending on their size. You can use the polygonal pod for salads, creams, stews and much more.

Okra is called bähmjeh in Lebanon (that's how they pronounce it). And this stew was simply named after this fantastic pod: Bähmjeh.

This okra stew is an absolute classic in Lebanon and is really made in a jiffy - throw everything in the pot one by one, put the lid on and set the table.

Well, there is one or two things to keep in mind when preparing the pods. When you cook the okra, it secretes a kind of slime. - Hey, don't panic! That sounds more unappetising than it actually is. This property allows the stew to thicken without adding starch. If you don't want this at all, there is of course a remedy.

Before you cook the pods, you can blanch them in water with vinegar or lemon juice - and you're rid of slime. My mother had another trick for me. "Fry them first, then they won't slime - just like snails." Okay, so I fry the pods hot.

By the way, I use the small variety for this stew, as it is more tender than the larger, longer pods. After the spicy frying, I sauté the diced onion and garlic and then deglaze everything with vegetable stock and strained tomatoes. Finally, I add the meat and braise it over a low to medium heat for 45 minutes.

Traditionally, bähmjeh - like almost every stew - is served with rice as a side dish. Rice is never simply cooked in Lebanon. It is celebrated and embellished. First, vermicelli are sautéed in a little butter or ghee (I love ghee) until they have turned a nice golden-brown colour. Then you add the rice and fry it briefly - and then you deglaze everything with broth. Believe me - it doesn't get much more aromatic than this. When I'm particularly lazy and have to be quick, I just make rice with vermicelli and eat it with a good dollop of cool yoghurt.

"Does it taste good?"

So far, I have always been answered with a broad smile with my mouth full 🙂 .

Recipe for okra stew with butter rice

Ingredients (approx. 4 people):

Okra stew

  • 500g beef goulash
  • 400g small okra (green, available in Turkish or Arabic supermarkets)
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • 500ml strained tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small hot chilli (optional)
  • 6 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate syrup or lemon juice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 large handful fresh coriander
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lemon (for garnish)

Prepare the butter rice according to the recipe.


Okra stew

  1. Dice the onions, roughly chop the garlic and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot and fry the okra in it until hot. - Please stir carefully, otherwise the pods will burst open.
  3. Add the onions and garlic and sauté.
  4. As soon as the onions are slightly translucent, add the tomato purée and stir in a little.
  5. Add the stock, strained tomatoes and cinnamon and bring to the boil briefly.
  6. Add the pomegranate syrup or lemon juice.
  7. Add the beef goulash and simmer on a low heat with the lid closed for 45 minutes.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. Chop the fresh coriander and add to the pot and braise for another 10 minutes over a low heat.


  1. Recipe for preparing butter rice.

Serve Bähmjeh with a few squeezes of lemon juice and some chopped coriander. I personally like to nibble a few radishes with it.

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  1. I like okra quite a lot, but usually don't know what to do with it. Adding them to a classic goulash is a great idea. I'll add it to the list of things to cook. Thank you!

    1. Hey, I'd love to 🙂 .
      I'm very curious to see how you like it. Please report back 🙂

      Kind regards

  2. Hi, I have pickled okra in a jar. Can I use them for this too or do I have to look for fresh ones?

    Best regards, Sarah

    1. Hi Sarah!
      It depends on how the pods were pickled. They usually already have a very intense flavour.
      Personally, I would go for the fresh peppers or the frozen ones.
      Kind regards

  3. Mmmmh, sounds very tasty!!! Just a pity that okra is (still) so rare to find anywhere....
    Kind regards

    1. Hey Eva,
      Unfortunately, that's true. But now I'm actually finding them more and more often. Have you ever looked in an oriental or Turkish market?
      Kind regards

  4. Vermicelli? With rice?? In a cup ???? Vermicelli as in vermicelli, pasta?

    1. Hello Ute,

      I admit that the information can be a little confusing. I have now changed the recipe a little. Vermicelli meant small thin soup noodles. You can now find the recipe for butter rice in the link in the recipe.
      Thank you for your advice 🙂

      Kind regards

  5. Hay Rafik, I have a question: If I can't get fresh okra, can I also use the frozen ones? What do I have to bear in mind then?
    Thank you

    PS: I love your recipes

    1. Hey Elke,
      thank you for the great feedback 🙂 You can also use frozen okra.
      You can also use frozen okra very well. But then you should rather use the small pods. You don't really have to pay attention to anything 🙂

      Kind regards

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