Bomya (Tomato Okra Stew)

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


Black pepper

Garlic powder


Lentils and Bomya 015


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.

Okra stew with tomatoes in the background

Closeup of okra stew



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  1. February 11, 2013

    In the esteemed Chef’s opinion, would there be a way to do this in a slow cooker and keep the same delicious result?

    • February 14, 2013

      Hmm…excellent question! In all honesty, I don’t think it will come out as good in slow cooker. And it might not be any quicker. I say that for a few reasons. First, you would still need to boil or the steam the okra. Second, it would be best to sear the meat before letting it cook in the slow cooker. Third, the sauce won’t have the same flavor if you don’t brown it. In short, yes you can make it in a slow cooker, but I don’t think it will come out as good. You can always experiment!

  2. Sdj
    April 18, 2016

    Made this yesterday for my family.! But instead of using beef chuck roast I used lamb shanks
    and cut up frozen okra instead of the whole okra. The lamb gave it a whole different flavor to the stew. It was Very delicious…my family loved it!

    • Candice
      April 19, 2016

      Bomya with lamb sounds wonderful! My family doesn’t love lamb, but I fully support cooking with it, especially in stews 🙂

  3. Samantha
    June 28, 2016

    I grew up eating this! Still one of my favorites, although now I don’t eat meat/poultry anymore. Any suggestions for making this vegetarian?
    (My mom keeps ignoring my recipe requests, haha)

  4. Candice
    December 7, 2016

    Hey Samantha! Apologies for the delayed response – I didn’t receive a notification about the comment. I would say you could just make the maraqa with okra, no meat. If you wanted to add a bit more sustenance, you could try adding firm tofu. Hope this helps 🙂

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