Okra is a vegetable that you either love it or hate it. In our house everyone loves t, it must be genetics.
In Turkey where I grow up okras are very small maybe the biggest one is about an inch long which means that it is a chore to shave the tops of each one before cooking them. Yes we do not cut them off, we just shave a thin layer off from the top so the vegetable does not release all it's lovey saliva (!) into the sauce.
When I first moved to London I was cooking the big okras that were available in food markets and supermarkets. I have never seen okras that big in Turkey when i was growing up. I was quite happy though as the bigger they are the easier it gets to clean them before cooking.
Then a few years later I discovered the frozen baby okras from the Middle eastern shops and there was no turning back to he finger sized ones. They are delicious and no need to clean them, voila!
Here is the recipe for my usual, I sometimes make it vegetarian by completely ignoring the meat on the recipe and omitting the 30 minutes on 1 step. Enjoy!
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
250 gr diced beef, cut to be 1 cm pieces
2 plum tomatoes, cubed
2 teaspoons tomato paste
200 ml water
Juice of 1 lemon
500 gr frozen baby okras
1-2 preserved lemon for serving
1. Heat vegetable oil in a pan, add onions and beef to the pan. Close the lid of the pan and cook on low heat for 30 minutes checking time to time that there is enough juices from the meat and it doesn't burn.
2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and water, bring to boil.
3. Add lemon juice and the okras to the pan and bring to boil.
4. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the okra is cooked to your liking.
5. Serve topped with 2 thin slices of preserved lemon.