Okra Masala Stew over Couscous

spice mix

At an Ethiopian restaurant in Rome I ordered a dish with “African zucchini”, the waitress wanted to confirm that I knew what these zucchini were, and though I wasn’t sure, I ordered it anyway and was so pleasantly surprised that African zucchini was really okra. Not a vegetable that you can easily find in Italy, and definitely not one used in the Italian kitchen. 

onions with spice mix

Of course okra is everywhere in the South, farmers markets, supermarkets, on the menu at restaurants, they were brought to North America from Africa during the slave trade. New Orleans does wonderful things with okra, but I haven’t seen them used in very creative ways in Charleston, the usual fried okra is what is most common here. I had found these at the farmers market and wanted to do something a little different. 


I read on another food blog that if you left them whole they wouldn’t get so slimy, so I decided, with the help of this blog, to try that and make an indian inspired stew to have over couscous. 

couscous  okra in tomatoes

Okra Masala Stew over Couscous

  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp mild chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can of whole tomatoes, or 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 pound okra (washed and trimmed but not cut)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into medallions 

In a small bowl, combine the turmeric, chili powder, cumin, ground coriander, salt, lemon juice and chopped cilantro (the mixture will still be fairly dry).

Heat the oil in a large frypan over medium heat and add the mustard seeds; fry for about 2 minutes, or until they begin to splutter and pop.

Add the onions and the spice mixture and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and carrots, stir to coat well.  Allow the carrots to simmer in the tomatoes for at least 15 minutes before you add the okra. Lower heat to simmer, cover, and cook until the okra is very tender, 25-35 minutes.

Make the couscous in the meantime.

  • 1½ cup couscous
  • 2 ¾  cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter

In a saucepan, bring water to a boil with olive oil and salt. When water starts to boil, add couscous and remove from heat. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Bring back to heat, add the butter and fluff with a fork while toasting the couscous. 

Top the couscous with the okra stew and garnish with more chopped cilantro if desired. 

okra stew over couscous

~ by italicious on May 7, 2009.

2 Responses to “Okra Masala Stew over Couscous”

  1. They weren’t slimy. They served them whole at the Ethiopian restaurant as well, and they weren’t slimy there either. Delish

  2. Thanks so much for giving this a try! But you didn’t answer the most important question: were they slimy?? 😉

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