Okra Stew with Beef & EggplantToday’s stew, enjoyed widely in Sierra Leone, with variations all over West Africa, is made of a smooth okra and eggplant sauce simmered gently with beef. Sounds simple enough, but the fact is, okra makes for a thick and slick sauce. This texture some would call slimy, is considered a real asset in African cooking, but one that is very foreign to my western family.
To puree
  1. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat a large wok or skillet over high heat. Drop in the red palm oil – if the pan is good and hot, it will smoke, so quickly add the meat and brown it. Juices will release – let them steam off and continue to cook until the meat looks oily again.
  2. Puree vegetables in batches, cutting them in chunks your blender can handle. I started with the onion and most of the eggplant with 2 cups broth. The second batch included the remaining eggplant and broth along with the trimmed okra and tomatoes.
  3. Add the puree to the beef and simmer about 30 minutes, until the stew becomes thick and deep brown. You could toss a slit habenero into the stew as it simmers, if you’d like to add some heat. As the mixture cooks, it will thicken and get slippery, as the okra does its work. Stir occasionally and watch the heat.
  4. Check your seasonings -my broth was salty enough, but you may wish to add some extra. Enjoy by itself or over a mound of rice.
Recipe Notes

Typically, all the vegetables for this stew would be fried and cooked together with the meat, until soft. Then the broth would be added and the mixture simmered. Then the meat would be picked out, set aside, while all the vegetables were passed through a food mill.

To save time, I pureed the vegetables in a blender ahead of time, adding them to the browned beef. While unconventional, this makes for a very quick dinner. The browned meat adds enough good bits for flavor, but if you’re concerned and have the time, just do it the old fashioned way.

Also, if you can’t find the red palm oil (I once saw it at Whole Foods and at Ebute Tropical Market in Tulsa), you may substitute vegetable oil.


Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only. This recipe and hundreds more from around the world may be found at www.GlobalTableAdventure.com.