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Turkish sour okra (Bamya)

Okra is a favourite in Persian cuisine and through the Ottoman Empire, it has found its way across the region, including Turkey. Okra is a hardy crop and easy to grow, especially in dry rocky environments. This makes it a valuable crop dependent on very little rainfall in the region.

This is a lovely side dish. The okra is cooked till soft but it loses it sliminess during the cooking process. The tomatoes form a lovely base that is both tart and lovely. The dish pops with a lovely flavour and is perfect as a side for heavy meat dishes.

The Turkish Cookbook is the bible for Turkish cooking by a master chef. The author has spent decades researching the cuisine of the different regions of Turkey and this book is a massive volume that highlights his efforts. Packed with recipes, this cookbook encompasses all Turkish cuisine, one every serious chef should have on their shelf or kitchen counter.

For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, finely diced

10-12 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb baby okra, wiped clean and left whole

1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes

1 teaspoon pepper

2 lb tomatoes, finely diced

Salt, to taste

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup water

Juice of 1 lime

Basil or mint, to garnish

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, one large enough to hold the okra in a single layer. Add the onions and garlic and fry on low till the onions are soft and translucent about 4-5 minutes.

Add the okra, chilli flakes, and pepper and mix in well. Cook the okra for 2-3 minutes till you see them turn a shade darker. Add the tomatoes, salt, sugar, water and lime juice and seal with a tight-fitting lid. Cook on low for 30 minutes undisturbed.

Check the okra to make sure they are cooked through and soft. This sauce should pop with tartness.

To serve, heat the dish, and remove the okra separately. Layer the tomato sauce on the bottom and top with the okra. Garnish with the herbs and serve immediately.

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