Friday, July 19, 2019

Fox Trot Farm - to - Table Recipe (and tour): American Lamb Shanks


While doing an online exploration of Lancaster County, South Carolina last month, Doug came across a place called Fox Trot Farm not far from our home. What drew him to this farm was the fact that they raise lamb for their meat. According to the website, the owners raise ‘a breed of meat sheep known as “hair sheep” due to their ability to shed their coats in the spring and summer. Their meat is lean, mild, and tender.’
Sheep and baby lambs roam at Fox Trot Farm
In addition to sheep, Fox Trot Farm has goats (their milk is used to make soap which is sold on the farm), a donkey, a pig, livestock guardian dogs, and chickens for their farm-fresh eggs. 
Freshly laid eggs! These are NOT dyed; it's their natural color.
There’s an apiary for their honeybees, too. The honey is harvested in June and the extra beeswax is melted for use in soaps. Honey is for sale as it becomes available.

Farmer Bob Burgess and his wife Debbie, a warm and welcoming couple, own and operate the farm. It's open only on Sundays between 1-5 PM, weather permitting. 
Farmer Bob getting ready to take a group on a tour in the hay wagon.
Bob takes visitors on a tour in the hay wagon pulled by his tractor, while Debbie runs the store, among many other things.

Doug and I chose to walk the grounds in order to hang out with the farm animals; it was pretty neat!

We’d hoped to be bringing home a variety of lamb cuts that day but discovered their lamb production isn’t until September. You can bet-your-boots we’ll be heading back then.
Rack of Lamb for sale at the Farm, when available
I was particularly happy to learn that the Burgess' favorite recipes are posted on their website, including the following one for Lamb Shanks.

As soon as lamb products are available, we'll return to Fox Trot Farm, to purchase the shanks and other cuts. We'll have a lamb-fest – and report back to you!

Here’s Debbie and Bob’s special Lamb Shank recipe …
Fox Trot Farm Braised Lamb Shanks

Fox Trot Farm Braised Lamb Shanks
Makes 2 hearty servings
Ingredients:
1 package Fox Trot Farm Lamb Shanks (2 shanks, about 1 ½ lbs.)
Flour, salt, and pepper
2 tablespoons bacon drippings or olive or canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
½ cup chopped celery
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc, or chicken broth
3 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
-Defrost, rinse and dry lamb shanks.
-Liberally dust with flour, salt, and pepper.
-Heat oil in Dutch oven till shimmering. Do not burn.
-Brown shanks on all sides in hot oil, turning as the meat becomes deep brown. (Important for richer flavor to not skip this step.)
-Remove browned shanks to plate.
-Add chopped vegetables to the pan drippings and sauté till they start to soften.
-Add garlic, thyme, and tomato paste and stir till combined with vegetables.
-Pour 1 cup wine (or chicken broth), and remaining broth into the vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
-Add bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper. (I go light on the pepper and let folks add more to their plate when served.)
-Return shanks to the Dutch oven and nestle them down into the vegetables and broth.
-Tightly cover and turn heat down to low simmer. Braise, turning every 20 minutes or so, for 2 hours or until the meat is falling-off-the-bone tender.
-Serve over rice, potatoes, noodles, or just in a bowl with the broth and sop up all that delicious broth with crusty bread or rolls.
-One shank is a perfect portion for each person.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Cheesy-Basterma Fillo Cups: A Tasty Little Appetizer

I’m a big fan of American-Greek chef, author Diane Kochilas. I watch her cooking show, 'My Greek Table', with great admiration. She’s talented, witty, and really knows her way around the kitchen!

In one episode, she made an appetizer which included basterma (pasturma to the Greeks), so I paid close attention.
It’s really simple actually, and not too different from the cheese borag bites I posted years ago. I’ve changed her original recipe, which uses Kasseri cheese, just a bit to suit our taste. 
Image of Pita Kaisarias in Phyllo Cups from Diane Kochilas' 'My Greek Table'

Cheesy-Basterma Fillo Cups

Ingredients:
½ cup unsalted butter, melted

2 – 15 count pkgs. frozen fillo cups, defrosted (Note: sold in the freezer section of most grocery stores)

2 cups grated Colby cheese (Monterey Jack or Muenster cheese may be substituted – or a combination of these to equal 2 cups) Note: Diane’s recipe uses 2 cups of grated Kasseri cheese)

2 or 3 ripe Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped

15 thin slices of basterma with most of the spice rub removed, finely chopped (sold in most Middle Eastern stores) Note: If basterma is unavailable, you can substitute Bresaola which is sold in the deli section of most grocery stores.

Salt and pepper, to taste, optional

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place fillo cups on a lightly greased – or parchment-lined- baking sheet. Brush insides of cups with melted butter.

In a mixing bowl, combine the grated cheese, chopped tomatoes, and basterma. Taste mixture to see if you’ll need salt and pepper. If so, add it here.

Place a small spoonful of mixture in each fillo cup. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool slightly; serve.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Two wheels plus great meals make this Dutch traveler's visit to Armenia and Artsakh special

Our friend David Blasco authors a lively blog about Royal Enfield motorcycles, RoyalEnfields.com. You may recognize his name from previous posts and from his occasional comments on this site. You probably don’t recognize the brand.
Royal Enfield motorcycles have never been common in the States but they have a storied history in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Their popularity eventually waned in the home country, however, and the factory closed in 1970.

David Blasco and his Bullet
Production resumed a few years later, not in England but in India. David, who was not yet a motorcycle rider, knew nothing about this until he read a newspaper article in 2001. He was enchanted by a peculiar circumstance: Enfield India wasn’t building replicas or updated retro bikes. It had simply continued to build the Royal Enfield Bullet, icon of long-ago era.

David, inveterate Anglophile and fan of unusual vehicles, could not resist buying a brand-new 1955 British motorcycle. Readers around the world have been following his adventures since 2008.

Note that I use the word “adventures” from a special perspective: I do not ride a motorcycle. My big excursion most days is walking to the mailbox. So, David’s tales of puttering along the palmy streets of Fort Lauderdale, Florida at harrowing speeds up to 40 miles per hour seem adventurous to me.

At least, they did until David passed along this link to a video blog by a 31-year-old Danish rider named Noraly. She is traveling the world on a Royal Enfield, albeit a more modern variant suited to traversing deserts, mountains and rock-strewn trails.

In other words, the perfect vehicle to reach Armenia.

Noraly and her Royal Enfield Himalayan
Noraly has posted several videos from her time there, including a side trip to Artsakh (Karabakh). Food features prominently. If you’re impatient watching roadside scenes, fast-forward this video to 9 minutes, 10 seconds and join her for an impromptu dinner with an Armenian family who invited this stranger into their home when she stopped to ask for directions.
Traveler Noraly didn't recognize most of what her Armenian hosts offered but she apparently loved it all. And yes, at center is my favorite anytime-breakfast, scrambled eggs with tomatoes!

She later spends the night at a “hostel,” really a rented room in a village home. For her, it’s an experience. For us, it’s a sobering glimpse of life in rural Armenia where nearly all roads are rocky and rutted, and where the little dram offered by a passing traveler can provide a critical boost to a family’s fortunes.

Fresh cheese and bread in Artsakh
Noraly is not a tour guide nor historian, so her commentary is mostly about the rigors and rewards of long-distance motorcycle riding. But she offers repeated praise for the beauty of the countryside and for the friendliness of Armenians who have so little for themselves yet share everything so generously.

And, of course, she instantly learns to love Armenian food!

You can learn more about Noraly and her journey at ItchyBoots.com. We wish her safe travels. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

An Armenian-inspired menu for a very American Fourth of July

Instead of serving the usual hamburgers and potato salad, why not celebrate America’s independence with their Armenian-inspired counterparts instead? Your family and guests will thank you for it!


Menu:
Entrée: Lule Kebab (seasoned ground meat shaped like a sausage) or Losh Kebab (seasoned ground meat shaped like a hamburger) with Yogurt-Garlic Sauce
Side Dish: Nanny’s Armenian Potato Salad (no mayonnaise needed!)
Dessert: Watermelon with Armenian string cheese and fresh mint
Lule kebab and veggies on the grill

LULE or LOSH KEBAB
Yields 5 or 6 kebabs - enough for 2 to 3 hungry people (NOTE: You can double the ingredient amounts for a larger crowd.)

Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 lbs. ground lamb or beef
3 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
3 Tbsp. finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 Tablespoon tomato paste - or - red pepper paste (available in Middle Eastern stores - or- tomato paste mixed with a dash of cayenne pepper and paprika may be substituted for the red pepper paste.)
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. allspice
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Directions:
**Gently mix all of the ingredients with salt and pepper (see note below) and shape the kebabs like sausages(Lule kebab) or hamburgers (Losh kebab) -- you don't have to get fancy or worry about making them perfect, but try to keep the thickness about the same so they cook evenly.

Cook on the grill until done - which, to us, means well done, or about 15 minutes in all. Since these aren’t flat burgers, turn them periodically so they’ll cook through.


**NOTE: To check the seasonings, make a mini-kebab and cook it in a frying pan.

Tip: Toss some tomatoes, peppers and onions in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Grill them along with the kebabs. Serve with a salad and the pilaf of your choice.

Serve with lavash or pita bread, onions and parsley, and yogurt-garlic sauce on the side, if you like.

YOGURT-GARLIC SAUCE
Ingredients:
16 oz. plain yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt to taste

Directions:
1. In a small mixing bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Mix well.
2. Chill until ready to serve, allowing flavors to blend. Can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

NOTE: If you want a thicker sauce, use Greek yogurt or labne - or - line a strainer with cheesecloth or coffee filters. Place the strainer over a bowl. Pour the yogurt into the lined strainer and place all in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Discard the excess liquid that collected in the bowl - or save it for another use, and place the thickened yogurt in a separate storage container. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Armenian Potato Salad (Photo courtesy of Sonia Tashjian)

NANNY’S ARMENIAN POTATO SALAD
Yield: Serves 4
This recipe can easily be doubled.

Ingredients:
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. potatoes, boiled, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tsp. red pepper paste, diluted with a little water (Note: Tomato paste mixed with a dash of cayenne pepper and paprika may be substituted for the red pepper paste.)
cumin, allspice, salt and pepper, to taste
about 2 Tbsp. olive oil
lemon juice, optional

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, mix the red pepper paste with a little water to thin it out. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, onion, parsley, diluted red pepper paste, and seasonings. Add olive oil; gently toss. Adjust seasonings, if needed. Add a little lemon juice, if desired.
3. Serve at room temperature, or chilled.
Watermelon and Armenian string cheese

WATERMELON

For an effortless dessert, serve seedless watermelon – sliced or cubed. Served with Armenian string cheese or Feta cheese, garnished with chopped fresh mint, if you like.
NOTE: Armenian string cheese is sold in Middle Eastern stores and in some supermarkets.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Armenian Food Products - in a Gas Station? You bet!

Back in 2012, Doug and I discovered a gas station in Stuart, FL that housed a Middle Eastern grocery store and surprisingly terrific café. What a find!

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, May, 2019 in Indian Land, SC. As Doug and I were driving toward Charlotte, NC, we passed an Exxon gas station with a yellow and black sign which caught our attention: Eastern European Foods.  

We stopped in to discover an array of food products from Russia, Georgia, the Ukraine – and – Armenia! 

Besides the shelved groceries, there are refrigerated compartments with cheeses, perogies, cakes, sausages, and more.

The Armenian products included a variety of fruit nectars, jellies, preserves, and grape leaves – and, the best part, it's only a 10 minute drive from our home. Naturally, we bought a bunch of things - Noyan grape leaves, Apricot Nectar, Eggplant Caviar, to name a few. 
Two of our purchases from a local gas station in Indian Land, South Carolina.

On a second visit recently, we noticed the largest package of lavash we’d ever seen, Armenian Lori cheese (actually, a product of Tbilisi, Georgia), and – drum roll, please – basterma (basturma)– in a gas station!

We bought the lavash and cheese; basterma purchase would have to wait for another visit.

Lavash and Armenian Lori cheese - our latest  gas station finds. 
I wasn't familiar with Lori cheese, so I did some research. First, I went to the company’s website – you can read the findings below.

The following explanation about Lori cheese comes from the manufacturer’s website: ABOUT PRODUCT : Rennet cheese. Pulp of color from white to light yellow. Has a dense, brittle structure. Throughout the volume of the cheese body are small holes. Without a peel. Taste - milky, medium salty, sometimes with sourness.

Next, I reached for my copy of Irina Petrosian’s book, ‘Armenian Food: Fact Fiction and Folklore’ for more details. 
Ms. Petrosian notes that Lori cheese, ‘a traditional Armenian cheese, has a short fermentation period, is aged in brine, is salty and not fully aged. Its firm texture is due to the curd being heated twice. Lori cheese has irregular holes formed from gases produced during the curing stage.’

After tasting a tiny piece of the cheese, it reminded me of a cross between a good Parmigiano-Reggiano and Feta cheese.

For cheese-lovers who like a rather tangy, salty cheese, it’s good on its own. When grated or crumbled, Lori cheese would be a lovely addition to soup, salad, pasta, or in a filling for cheese boregs. Serve it with fruit, fresh greens (scallions, fresh herbs), fresh tomatoes – but don’t forget lavash! 
For cocktail hour, why not pair Lori cheese with wine? (Sorry, I can’t suggest a wine – not my department).

For those who prefer a less salty cheese, I have it on good authority from Sonia Tashjian, that Lori cheese can be cut into pieces then immersed in cold water to reduce the saltiness.

The next time you're driving past a gas station, stop inside; you might be surprised at what you'll find.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Spinach Borani (Burani), a Persian Dip or Meal Accompaniment

For Father’s Day weekend, Doug and I spent time in Greenville, SC, a vibrant southern city. We’d heard a lot of wonderful things about Greenville and were thrilled to find that the city lives up to its reputation as a recreational and ‘foodie’ destination – accent on ‘foodie’!

We stayed in the heart of Greenville at a hotel on the Reedy River, within walking distance to a host of sights and dining options.

Dining in Greenville- from simple to sublime!

Our meals were truly memorable. For Father’s Day dinner we dined at Halls Chophouse, featuring an upscale, all- American menu with aged steaks and  really terrific seafood. Much to our surprise and delight, the tab was picked up, long distance, by our daughter and son-in-law! We couldn’t be together, but they were with us in spirit. Thanks, kids!

The previous night we dined at Pomegranate on Main, a Persian restaurant – that’s right, Persian food in South Carolina – and it was delicious!
We ordered the 'Tour of Persia' for two which included 2 appetizers of our choice, an entree to share with 3 skewers of kebab - filet mignon, chicken, and shrimp, two different rice recipes, grilled tomatoes, and tea. Sadly, there was no room for dessert!
My homemade Spinach Borani
One of the appetizers we selected was Spinach Borani (also spelled Burani), that was so tasty I decided - on the spot - I’d make it as soon as we got home – and I did. 
It’s really easy, too.

Spinach Borani
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 lb. fresh baby spinach, rinsed and patted dry
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium clove of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup plain yogurt (not Greek style- and - not low fat)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tsp. dried mint, crushed, or to taste, optional
Extra Virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Directions:
Place spinach in a large skillet with ½ cup water; place lid on skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until spinach is wilted. This will only take a few minutes. Drain liquid completely; chop spinach and set aside.

Wipe the skillet and use it to sauté the onions and garlic in the butter until softened, but not burned.
Add the drained, chopped spinach to the onions and cook for about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove skillet from heat and allow mixture to cool.

Place cooled spinach-onion mixture in a bowl; add yogurt and dried mint, if using. Stir to combine.
Just before serving, drizzle a little olive oil on top.

This may be served warm or cold.

As a dip, serve with triangles of pita bread and/or vegetable sticks.
This can also be served as a side dish for kebabs, or any other meat, fish or poultry dish.


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Nammoura - a (Slightly) Healthier Version - and two more recipes

I have to admit I haven’t been cooking as much as usual for the past week, and for that I have no excuse. But then we learned that our daughter, Mandy, would be here on a work-related trip, so Doug and I got busy in the kitchen. After all, we had to feed our one-and-only!

I baked a batch of my mother-in-law’s lavash – one of Mandy’s favorites, and Doug made 2 pots of dolma – meat and rice-stuffed peppers in one pot; the same stuffing wrapped in grape leaves in the other. Two more of Mandy’s favorites.
Sylvia Kalajian's Lavash 
Grape leaves stuffed with ground turkey and rice
Peppers stuffed with the same mixture as the grape leaves above.
A dessert seemed appropriate, so I made one I hadn’t prepared before, a healthier version of Nammoura, a Lebanese cake made from semolina soaked in a simple syrup flavored with rose water, and decorated with almonds, or in my case - pistachios. (See recipe below.)

Nammoura, a healthier version than the original, ready to serve.

Sometimes you just need a reason to go full steam ahead in the kitchen. Thanks, Mandy, for providing us with this special occasion!

Nammoura, a Healthier Version
(Recipe adapted from one found on www.easylebaneserecipes.com.)
Yield:  24 pieces

Ingredients:
1 cup semolina
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
A dash of salt
1 cup plain, fat-free yogurt  (NOT Greek yogurt)
1 to 2 Tbsp. rose water (Note: Orange blossom water – or- a combination of the two may be substituted)
1 tsp. vegetable oil, for greasing the pan
Garnish: 24 shelled pistachio nuts (Note: Blanched almonds are more commonly used in this recipe.)
Syrup Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 small cinnamon stick
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions:
Preheat oven at 350°F.
Semolina and the other dry ingredients mixed together; rose water and plain yogurt 

In a bowl, combine the semolina with the sugar, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt and rose water. Mix together with a wooden spoon, wire whisk or an electrical hand mixer.
Nammoura batter
Lightly coat an 8”x8” square pan with the vegetable oil. (I used an 8" glass pie pan.) Pour the mixture into the pan spreading it evenly with a spatula.
Nammoura ready to bake
Gently press pistachio nuts (or almonds) into the surface, leaving space between them. (Note: Each serving piece should have one nut in the center.)

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

While nammoura is baking, prepare the syrup.
Preparing the simple syrup
Syrup Directions:
Place the sugar, water and cinnamon stick in a saucepan. Cook on medium heat stirring constantly until it starts to boil and sugar dissolves. Stir in the lemon juice. Remove saucepan from heat; set aside to cool completely before using. Discard cinnamon stick.
Nammoura  -hot out of the oven!
To complete the recipe:
As soon as the nammoura is removed from the oven, spoon the cooled syrup over the entire hot surface so that the syrup will be absorbed.

Set the pan of nammoura on a cooling rack and allow it to come to room temperature.

To serve:
Wait at least 1 hour before cutting and serving.
When ready, cut it into 24 equal pieces, and arrange them on a serving platter.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Celery, Avocado and Cucumber Salad - a recipe from Christine Datian

It’s time to start thinking about healthy, cool, refreshing recipes for summer.  Christine Datian’s Celery, Avocado and Cucumber Salad hits all those marks!
You can make this dish as simple or elaborate as you like. Christine offers some yummy suggestions at the end of her recipe that will really give the salad pizzazz and jazz-up any summertime meal.  
 
Christine Datian's Celery, Avocado and Cucumber Salad
Celery, Avocado and Cucumber Salad
by Christine Vartanian-Datian
Serves 6

Ingredients:
6 cups sliced celery, tender leaves included, sliced on an angle
2 large avocados, cut into pieces or sliced
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, diced
2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced or 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup canned garbanzo beans, washed, drained
1/2 medium red onion, sliced thinly
6-8 radishes, chopped or sliced thinly
1/2 cup each chopped flat-leaf parsley and mint
1/4 cup marinated black olives
****                ****                ****
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 or 2 lemons (or red wine or balsamic vinegar to taste)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon sumac (or lemon zest)
Olive oil
Garnishing Options: Crumbled feta cheese, ricotta cheese or queso fresco, toasted pine nuts, pecans or walnuts, fresh lemon or lime wedges
Salad Preparation:
Combine the celery, avocado and cucumbers with the remaining vegetables and olives; toss.

Dressing Preparation:
In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, pepper and sumac (or lemon zest).

Before Serving:
Toss dressing with salad to coat. Adjust seasonings if needed, cover, and marinate for one hour in the refrigerator.

When ready to serve, transfer salad to a serving plate with a slotted spoon (leaving behind any excess liquid).
Garnish with cheese and/or toasted nuts; if desired.
Serve with fresh lemon or lime wedges.

Christine’s Suggestions: To jazz things up a bit, optional additions to this salad may include orange or grapefruit segments, diced apple, chopped dates, pomegranate seeds, dried cranberries, golden raisins, pears, marinated artichoke hearts or mushrooms, or fresh grapes.  Toss with a citrus poppy seed dressing or other dressing of your choice in place of oil and lemon juice.

*Christine’s recipes have been published in the Fresno Bee newspaper, Sunset magazine, Cooking Light magazine, and at https://www.thearmeniankitchen.com/



Friday, May 24, 2019

Bamiayov Zahd (Okra Stew) - a recipe from C.K. Garabed (aka Charles Kasbarian)

C.K. Garabed (Charles Kasbarian)
Some of you might recognize the name C.K. Garabed from ‘The Armenian Weekly’ newspaper, as he has been writing ‘Uncle Garabed’s Notebook’ for a very long time. For those of you who don’t know him, here is his ‘bio’ from Armeniapedia.org. It will give you an idea of his many skills and talents.

“C.K. Garabed (aka Charles Kasbarian) - Actor, Aphorist, Archivist, Chef, Choral Conductor, Columnist, Commentator, Composer, Critic, Editor, Essayist, Folk Dancer, Inventor, Lecturer, Lexicographer, Painter, Photographer, Playwright, Poet, Political cartoonist, Record Producer, Stand-up Comedian, Vocalist. In short, a jack of all arts, and master of none.”

C.K. the ’chef’ and I have bonded through The Armenian Kitchen. Like my father’s side of the family, C.K. is Dikranagerdtsi. We know some of the same people and share a love of some terrific Dikranagerdtsi recipes.

One of C.K.’s many projects on Armeniapedia.org is his Dikranagerdtsi Cookbook, a work in progress. He’s been sharing some of his recipes with me. We compare notes, and bounce recipe thoughts, suggestions, and ideas off one another. It’s a lot of fun – and – a learning experience for both of us.
Bamiayov Zahd (Okra Stew) served with a side of bulgur pilaf

C.K. knows I’m not a fan of okra because of its tendency to get slimy when cooked – and he also knows my husband loves okra. To help me overcome my dislike, C.K. sent me a recipe for Bamiayov Zahd, Okra Stew, which includes a unique technique for reducing or eliminating okra’s objectionable texture.

For the sake of my husband, I agreed to give C.K.’s alternate version of the recipe, which includes cooked lamb, a try. (See below for details.)

You’ll find my evaluation at the end of the recipe. Who knows, maybe this will help covert other okra-dislikers, too!

Bamiayov Zahd (Okra Stew)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1 lb. fresh baby okra, trimmed – or - frozen baby okra, defrosted
1 cup white vinegar
1 medium sized onion, sliced
1- 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
juice of ½ lemon
olive oil (about 2 Tbsp.)
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. Aleppo red pepper
salt, pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Wash and dry okra, if using fresh. If using frozen okra, defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
This is the brand of frozen okra I purchased at my local Middle Eastern store for this recipe.
  2. Place okra in a shallow bowl and add the white vinegar. (Note: Steps 2 and 3 help to reduce or eliminate the slimy consistency often associated with cooked okra.)
Okra soaking in white vinegar
  3. After ½ hour, remove okra from the vinegar and rinse well with water.

  4. Place okra in a casserole baking dish.

  5. In a skillet, sauté onion and garlic in 2 Tbsp. olive oil until lightly browned.(Note: If using cooked lamb, add here. Lamb cooking instructions are below.)
Sautéed onion, garlic and lamb
 6. Add sautéed onions and garlic to okra. 

7. Dissolve tomato paste in diced tomatoes; add lemon juice and spices and mix.

  8. Pour tomato mixture over the okra, onions, and lamb, if using.

  9. Bake, uncovered, in 375°F oven for 30 minutes, or until okra is tender.
Bamiayov Zahd and Bulgur pilaf ready to serve!
Note: Okra stew makes an excellent side dish to complement lamb and bulghour pilaf.

C.K.’s Alternate recipe using cooked lamb:
1. Place lamb neck bones in a large saucepan making sure to cover the meat with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Remove any scum that rises to the surface. Continue to cook meat for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the meat separates from the bones. Remove meat from bones; discard any bones, cartilage, etc.
2. Add the meat to the okra, prepared as above, before baking. (See step #6)

Special Note from C.K.: Bamia is a borrowing from Turkish ‘bamya’ for okra. Zahd is a borrowing from Kurdish ‘zad’ for food.

My Evaluation:
Lo-and-behold! There was absolutely no unpleasant sliminess in the okra!! This could be attributed to the vinegar-soaking, or it could be that I used the very small okra which was purchased in the freezer section of the Middle Eastern store. Or it could be both, I’m not sure.

The taste of the recipe was delicious (a lot of ground coriander is the key there), and I’m glad I added the cooked lamb. There was a slight sourness to the recipe – could have been too much lemon juice, or maybe some vinegar penetration in the okra. In any case, it was not objectionable.

I will definitely make the recipe again, but next time I won't soak the small okra in vinegar – just to see if it gets slimy or not. Worst case scenario, slime might be present in which case  Doug will get the entire recipe to himself and I’ll eat something else. (There's always lahmajoun in the freezer!)

If no slime is present without soaking in vinegar, then maybe I’ll just have to keep on buying the very small okra.