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.

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