Okra stew is a classic Middle Eastern dish made mainly with okra and tomatoes and sometimes lamb, as in this version. It’s very flavorful, thanks to cilantro, seven spice and lemon. To keep the okra from becoming slimy, I opt to cook them whole, with the tops intact. Using frozen small okra also helps; you can find them (and Lebanese seven spice) in many supermarkets and/or Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food shops, or buy the smallest fresh okra you can find. Serve the stew with plain white rice or vermicelli rice noodles, according to tradition.
Mix the lamb with 1 teaspoon seven spice blend in a large bowl, tossing to coat, and set it aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottom pot over medium heat. Add the lamb to the pot and sear until brown on all sides, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. Remove the lamb from the pot and set it aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the same pot over medium heat. Saute the onion until tender and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and cilantro and stir to combine. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the okra. Stir in 1 teaspoon kosher salt, the remaining 1 teaspoon of seven spice and add the browned lamb. Add in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and 3 cups of water.
Cover and cook the stew over medium heat until the lamb is fully cooked, 30 to 40 minutes. Add the lemon juice to the stew right before serving. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt.
It’s best to keep the lamb pieces small so they cook faster.
You can store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes.
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