Okro: West African colloquial; Kanja: Wollof; bamia: Arabic
Okra grows easily in many regions in Africa and is a popular green vegetable, especially because it is a wonderful thickener for sauces and stews. The viscous nature for which okra is rightfully world famous is a benefit in many African dishes, where a sauce needs to hold its own next to a mound of fufu or some other African staple.
Okra’s sliminess is found in its skin. Cut open a raw pod and you can see the trails of white plant sap sticking to each other when you separate the pieces. If you don’t like okra’s viscous, gooey texture, that’s fine. There’s a place for you here. Just cook okra in a way that doesn’t dry out its skin, like in our okra turmeric recipe. Even if you can’t stand okra right now, we recommend you give okra another try.
Okra used to be called ladyfingers and in many old cookbooks you can find all kinds of ingenious recipes for using them. I even found one that suspended boiled okra in aspic, which we’re going to skip repeating here.