Chicken and Okra

Okra is not something I had ever eaten until being exposed to Libyan cooking.

You say okra in the United States, and people either think of Indian dishes or something from southern cooking. Okra is not a common vegetable, despite being an incredibly nutritious food. Okra is rich in folate, fiber, and Vitamin K, and may have benefits for those with diabetes. Okra is sometimes thought of as slimy—which can definitely happen if cooked a certain way. However, I’m here to introduce you to a delicious and easy way of enjoying okra—okra stew with chicken.

Raw chicken is definitely no beauty, but the results are!

So you’ve got your chicken, your tomato paste on hand, and your okra waiting in the wings. The first thing to do is to brown the raw chicken on all sides in your pot that will turn into your pot for the stew (I love recipes that don’t require too many dishes to wash). This will take just a few minutes on each side, and can be done in olive oil.

Next, you’re going to add in your spices, frying them for just a bit (30 seconds or so) before adding enough water to cover the chicken. Add in about two tablespoons of tomato paste to your water, stirring until the paste has dissolved into the water. Now let’s get this all to a boil, then taking it to medium heat, uncovered, for about thirty minutes to an hour. Over the course of this time, the tomato paste water will reduce and thicken, making the chicken cooked and tender.

You can boil and reduce for as long as you like, but I think an hour will do it. Now add in your raw okra and mix. You may need to add more water if it is too thick, because you are going to keep boiling that stew for another 30-45 minutes until the okra is cooked. The okra is cooked when it is no longer stiff, but still has some life in it. You can cook the okra down totally, but I like mine with a little bit of stiffness in it so that you feel the vitamins are more alive.

Once the okra is cooked to your liking, give the sauce a little taste test. Now is the time to add some more salt or additional seasonings if it is not where you want it to be.

Serve this stew over rice or couscous, sprinkled with a little parsley for color and maybe a few olives for good measure. Saha!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6-8 chicken drumsticks
  • About 6 cups of water
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Tomato paste
  • Okra (about 2-3 cups)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Paprika, 1 tsp
  • Garlic powder, 1 tsp
  • Coriander, 1 tsp
  • Cumin, 1 tsp
  • Parsley flakes or fresh parsley, 1 tsp

1) Begin by browning the chickens legs in olive oil, about one to two minutes on each side. Add in the spices, frying for about thirty seconds before adding water.

2) Cover the chicken with water. Add in about two tablespoons of tomato paste, stirring. Bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and let cook for about an hour, thickening the sauce but making sure to add water if needed.

3) Add okra. Cook for another 30-45 mins. Taste for salt/seasonings, adding more if necessary.

4) Serve over rice or couscous.

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