|Doug’s Home-cooked Bamiya|
and I loved it.
places, including the American South and pretty much the entire Near and Middle
and Arabs all favor similar preparations and have similar names for the
tomato-and-okra stew we call bamiya.
slimy,” she says. I discovered early in our courtship that there was no point
occasional taste, but only if I assure her the batch I’ve prepared is free of
ooze. (I would never lie about anything as important as okra!)
gotten is, “I guess it’s OK for what it is.” It’s not hard to figure what she means, as she’s never taken
a second bite.
become a distant memory for me—but definitely a fond one.
parents’ house on a cold winter evening and sliding my chair up to the kitchen
table. Nothing could possibly be as warming or comforting as a hot ladle of bamiya
poured over a mound of Mom’s pilaf and sopped up by a fat slice of fresh,
in Florida, but this all came back to me in April on a chilly day in London, England.
booked a few days in a London hotel as a fun finale. Just my rotten luck, I
came down with the flu before the ship docked at our next-to-last port in
France. By the time we reached Southampton, my fever spiked at 102.
|Bon Appetit, London|
I don’t remember much about the two-hour ride to London,
where I spent the first two days of our three-day visit in bed. With plenty of
time on my hands, I did a bit of Yelping to see what we were missing in the
neighborhood. That’s when I spotted the Bon Appetit Lebanese Restaurant just
over a block away.
decided something a little closer to home cooking might boost my appetite as
well as my spirits.
The restaurant was little more than a take-out counter, but it did have a few
tables in a sparse but neat back room. The friendly young man in charge assured
us that everything was made from his grandmother’s recipes. “It’s what we eat
at home,” he said.
slow-cooked with lamb, tomato, onion, fresh garlic and olive oil. Served with
|Bammieh B’zeit, London style|
like Mom’s and it didn’t cure the flu but it sure beat fish and chips!
spotted a display of fresh okra. “Treat yourself,” she said, so I did. We
bought just enough for one, and I was definitely the one. My big bowl of bamiya
had me smiling again.
thoughts on okra. Many cooks who share Robyn’s aversion to slime swear that
soaking okra in vinegar reduces or eliminates the problem. I don’t much care
for sour okra, so I don’t bother.
large pieces. I disagree. I find the key to reducing slime is simply to avoid
overcooking, and it helps to keep the pieces small. Okra gets slippery when it
breaks down, but it’s delightfully crisp when cooked until it’s just tender.
tend to be tougher and can be so fibrous you can’t chew them no matter how long
below the stem. Cut into half-inch pieces and set aside.
piece of okra for desired tenderness and cook as desired.