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Okra stew with veal served in a bowl

Okra Stew | Middle Eastern Bamia Recipe

Okra stew, otherwise known as bamia in the Arabic, is a classic dish served in many countries across the middle east. It's typically cooked with beef, lamb or veal and served with rice. It's so comforting and the best way to enjoy okra!
Course Mains
Cuisine middle eastern
Keyword Bamia, Bamya, Okra stew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 6


  • 500 g veal cut into medium pieces (you can substitute lamb or stewing beef - see notes)
  • 800 g frozen small okra you can substitute fresh okra - see notes
  • 1 onion
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 5.5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1.5 tablespoon pomegranate molasses if unavailable, you can skip this - but highly recommend
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt total amount, added in stages
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • About 15 cups of water added in stages


  • Start by dicing the onion finely and add it to a stock pot along with the vegetable oil and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook it for 2-3 minutes until translucent
  • Wash the veal pieces and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • To the pot, add the washed veal pieces and brown them from all sides for about 5 minutes
  • Next add the tomato paste and and continue to cook for another few minutes
  • Add the frozen okra to the pot along with the garlic which should be roughly chopped, the pomegranate molasses and ½ teaspoon salt
  • Add about 10 cups of water in the pot, mix everything well, and bring to a rolling boil on medium heat for roughly 30 minutes
  • After 30 minutes, check the tenderness of both the okra and the meat. If they are both still slightly firm, add more water (roughly 4-5 cups) and allow it to continue boiling for another 20 minutes
  • Check the softness of the meat and okra, as well as the seasoning and adjust accordingly. If okra and meat are both tender, turn heat off and serve


  • I recommend using good quality veal or lamb for this stew, as they are typically more tender than beef. However if all you have on hand is beef, that works fine too but expect a tougher consistency. 
  • Also for the meat, you can pressure cook it before starting the stew process to ensure it tenderizes in a short amount of time
  • Small or young okra is recommended as it is much more tender than the larger okra. I do not recommend using large okra - it may need a really long time to cook, and sometimes it does not even soften