Okra with tomatoes and vinegar
This is one of the best ways to eat okra. The okra binds the oil and tomato together into a luscious, slippery stew. You can use fresh, or frozen okra. You can cut the okra into rings, or just slice them into halves down the middle. Typical of Portuguese influenced cooking, this Angolan recipe has a little vinegar in it. It’s wonderful as-is, for a veggie main, or side dish. You can also add a whole, cut up chicken and turn it into a hearty meal (like a bare-bones muambha de gallina).
Angolan okra and tomato is typically made with red palm oil, the kind with a lot of pulp (not the clear variety). Red palm oil has quite a strong flavour, so you can substitute olive oil if you either can’t find palm oil or don’t like it. Don’t skimp on the oil, in some misguided notion of “healthy” though. The oil is part of the substance of the dish.
When choosing fresh okra, choose young, tender, firm pods. They should be bright green, without too many black spots. When it gets old, it can be woody.
– 1lb (400g) okra, fresh or frozen
– 2 tbsp (30ml) olive oil, or other vegetable oil
– 1/3 cup (75ml) red palm oil, or olive oil
– 1 large can (14oz, 400g) of petit diced tomatoes
– 1 onion
– 3 cloves of garlic
– 1 tsp (5ml) chili flakes, or a pinch of cayenne
– 3 tbsp (45ml) cider or white wine vinegar
– 1.5 tsp (7ml) salt, or to taste
– 1 chicken cut into pieces
– 1/2 cup (100ml) white wine
– additional palm oil, vinegar, and salt.
Coarsely chop the garlic, and thinly slice the onion. If the okra is whole, slice it into little wheels, or just slice it lengthwise into halves.
Heat the oil over medium. Add the onion, and cook until it is translucent, and beginning to turn golden. Add the garlic, and cook until it is soft and fragrant. Don’t let it burn. Add the okra, and cook it with the onion, stirring occasionally until it begins to brown a bit on the edges. Add the chili, if using.
Add the tomatoes (if you like, pulse them very briefly in the blender first, to make a tender-chunky texture). Let the mixture heat up until it starts to boil. Add the palm oil. Season with salt and vinegar. When it heats through, taste and adjust seasoning. Let it cook over low heat, until the okra is soft, and almost falling apart (anywhere from 30-50 minutes)
If you do this with chicken, marinate the chicken in the white wine and enough vinegar to cover for an hour before hand. Brown the chicken in a pan. Add the chicken to the mixture at the same time as the tomatoes.
This should be served with a starch–anything from rice to potatoes, to plantain or polenta works. Tapioca fufu is traditional, but exceedingly unpleasant.