I made this delicious stew during the week, and I’ve been meaning to share the recipe. With the cold weather zealously guarding its cold claim on February, it only seems appropriate to continue making heart-warming marakas. If you are not familiar with maraka, it’s a type of tomato stew that’s popular in Iraq. In fact, bomya, or okra stew, is the most frequently cooked marka. Other popular marakas are made with fava beans, long green beans, curry or cauliflower. You can find a few of these recipes on my blog: cauliflower curry, lobia (long green beans), and ka’ree (curry).
As a kid, I hated this dish. I thought that okra were slimy, and, I was generally opposed to anything green in my food, except maybe cucumbers. My brother hated bomya too. At the time, it was one of the few things that we actually had in common; a loathing for most vegetables, particularly okra. Today, bomya is now my brother’s favorite maraka, and it’s one of his favorite dishes in general. Whenever my cousins and I debate our favorite maraka, he adamantly takes the side of bomya.
While I can agree that okra may take some getting used to, when cooked right, it can be absolutely delicious. In tomato okra stew, you’ll find that the okra almost melts in your mouth, and that the little green pod gives the sauce a hearty thickness.
*NOTE: If you don’t have tomato paste, you can use tomato sauce instead. Be sure to brown a fresh tomato, or some of the sauce, before adding water.
Servings: 3-4 people
1 bag frozen okra
1 can tomato paste
1 pound chuck roast, cubed
2 cups water
Add the chopped meat to a large pot, and turn heat to high.
Season the meat with salt, pepper, and garlic. Stir. Allow the meat to cook until it is nicely seared on all sides. Then, add two cups of water, and reduce heat to medium. Allow meat to cook until all the water has cooked away. Repeat at least once or until meat is tender.
While the meat is cooking, place the okra in a steam basket on top of the same pot in which the meat cooking. If you don’t have a steam basket for veggies, boil the okra in a separate pot until tender. (Don’t over boil or the okra will burst)
Once the meat is cooked, remove from the pot and set aside. With the heat on medium, add the tomato paste to the pot. Let the paste brown slightly so that it gets a nice roasted flavor. Add about 2 cups of water, the cooked meat, and the okra.
Bring the sauce to a boil over medium. Allow the stew to cook on medium heat until the sauce begins to thicken. Add salt, pepper, and lemon to taste. Serve with white rice.