Moroccan Okra, Zucchini and Tomato Tagine Recipe

Okra and Zucchini Tagine with Tomatoes Photo © Christine Benlafquih
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 70 mins
Total: 100 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
639 Calories
45g Fat
21g Carbs
37g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 639
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 45g 58%
Saturated Fat 13g 63%
Cholesterol 121mg 40%
Sodium 1172mg 51%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 7g 26%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 37g
Vitamin C 64mg 321%
Calcium 174mg 13%
Iron 4mg 24%
Potassium 1393mg 30%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean, you'll encounter a variety of dishes which pair okra and tomatoes. In this Moroccan tagine recipe, zucchini is added to the mix, providing complementary flavor and an alternate vegetable for those who may not be wild about okra. 

Okra tagines are commonly prepared with beef or lamb; chicken may be used instead but you'll want to reduce the liquids and adjust cooking time accordingly. Many people prefer baby or young okra; if using larger, longer pods, you can cut them into small pieces but leaving the pods intact allows for nicer presentation and reduces the amount of mucilage released. The gelatinous mucilage acts as a natural thickening agent, but some find its consistency to be unpleasantly slimy. Soaking the okra in a water and vinegar bath helps reduce that effect.

In Morocco, you'll hear okra referred to as . That term can be confusing, as elsewhere in the Arabic speaking world the same word is used to refer to a mallow-like green which also releases mucilage when cooked. 

Cooking time is for a pressure cooker. Allow double this time if cooking in a conventional pot and triple this time if slow cooking in a tagine. Serve the tagine with crusty Moroccan bread (khobz) for scooping up the meat, sauce and vegetables.

Also try Fez Style Shrimp, Beef and Okra Soup and Moroccan Tagine with Peas and Okra.


  • 1 pound lamb or beef, cut into 3-inch pieces

  • 1 pound okra, trimmed

  • 1 pound zucchini, partially peeled lengthwise

  • 1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil (part butter, if desired)

  • 6 medium ripe tomatoes

  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped

  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1 pinch saffron threads, crumbled

  • 1 cup vinegar

Steps to Make It

Prep the Vegetables

  1. Trim the stem and tip from each okra pod. Remove fuzz from older, larger pods by gently scrubbing under running water. Wash and drain the okra, then place in a bowl and cover with one cup of water and one cup of vinegar. Set aside to soak for 30 to 60 minutes. Drain and pat dry thoroughly when ready to use. 

  2. Trim the stem from each zucchini and partially pare by peeling several thin strips from the length of the zucchini, creating a striped effect. Smaller zucchini may be left whole; larger zucchini may be cut in half lengthwise. Set aside until ready to use. 

  3. Peel, seed and finely chop the tomatoes or seed and grate them. Set aside.

    To Cook in a Pot or Pressure Cooker

  4. Over medium heat, brown the meat, onion, garlic, oil and spices in a large pot or pressure cooker.

  5. Add the tomatoes, parsley and cilantro. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

  6. Add 2 1/2 cups  to 3 cups of water. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. If using a pot, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 60 to 90 minutes, until the meat is nearly done. If using a pressure cooker, cover and cook with pressure for about 30 minutes. 

  7. Interrupt the cooking to add the okra (and a little water if necessary). Cover and bring back to a simmer for about 20 minutes (or bring back to pressure for about 10 minutes), until the okra is tender but still holds its shape.

  8. Add the zucchini and continue simmering, partially covered, until tender.

  9. Reduce the sauce until thick. Arrange on a serving platter or tagine and serve.

    To Cook in a Traditional Tagine

  10. In a large tagine placed on a diffuser over medium-low to medium heat, saute the meat, onions and garlic in the oil, turning the meat several times to brown on all sides. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

  11. Add the tomatoes, herbs and spices. Stir to combine then cover. Once simmering, cook for 10 to 15 minutes. 

  12. Position the meat in the center of the tagine and arrange the okra and zucchini all around. Add 1 1/2 cups of water, cover and allow the tagine to slowly reach a simmer. Continue cooking without stirring for about 3 hours (lamb may take longer), adding a little more water if needed, until the meat is very tender and the sauce is reduced. 

  13. Serve the dish directly from the tagine Tradition is to eat communally from the tagine, using pieces of bread in lieu of utensils.