If I could look at a food and immediately know how to prepare it without mistakes I’d be a chef. Unfortunately, I like many others have learned through trial and error and that’s how the story begins with preparing okra and many of the meals described in this blog. Growing up, I loved (and still love it) okra in the traditional way it was prepared in my household. (Maybe one day when I’m bold enough I will share for now, I’ll explain the ”other” method). I have found it necessary to experiment with other methods on consuming this exotic, healthy looking vegetable. So, quite naturally, I have to find ways to incorporate it into my diet using ingredients that are available at the grocery stores.

But, I, like some other people have been unlucky enough to try okra when it was prepared badly. It’s very easy to be turned-off okra if you’ve been confronted with a serving of okra that looks like a slimy science project. Although okra is familiar to many other cultures, some in the Western world have either never tried it or are unsure how to prepare it since fresh okra has recently become available at conventional grocery stores (I think ). If I can recall correctly, a few years ago, it was only available in its frozen form as a result, it was somewhat of a mystery (phallic looking) vegetable. Well, okra is now in almost all major grocery stores which is an indication that a it is gaining approval among the masses.

I am not quite ready to promote the widely circulated internet claims that okra is a good aphrodisiac and contains hormone balancing properties for menopausal women but, I will say this: it is a great gofer vegetable. This is because like many of the dishes you will find this blog; I’ve discovered so many more ways to consume okra to the extent that it is my go-to vegetable. For example, the other day I made tomato soup and I was looking for something to break the acidic taste. I added some okra and voila that tangy, sharp taste was neutralized exposing all the other rich herby-notes that were in the soup. Even when making yam porridge, a few stalks of okra in the mix makes all the difference. Fish and game meats are great way to compliment okra or vice versa. Oh and my absolute favourite is okra tempura. I add okra tempura to my vegetable taco and its delicious. OMG…

Before I get carried away, let me share three of the secrets I’ve discovered about preparing okra.

    1. Resist chopping into too small pieces in its raw form that way you can avoid that gummy, slimy characteristic it has when cooked.
    2. DO combine citrus (like lemon, lime, oranges) or any other highly acidic ingredients like tomatoes in order to cut the sliminess.
    3. As for making okra a center plate item, hmmmm, I’m not a big fan but if you must, try it and let me know how you’ve prepared your okra. Otherwise, I don’t think okra makes a good center plate vegan or vegetarian food unless eating a plate of your grade four science project appeals to you. But, it makes excellent soups, sauces, appetizers, snacks and compliments to main dishes.

NOW, what is a good okra recipe? You may ask. Here it is.Let me know how yours turned out.

ps:  If you want to reduce the tanginess, and a couple more stalks of okra or throw in pieces of bread chunks

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