Turkish Okra and Tomato With Olive Oil

Turkish-style okra

Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013

Prep: 75 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 105 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
185 Calories
11g Fat
23g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 185
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 805mg 35%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 7g 24%
Total Sugars 13g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 76mg 380%
Calcium 140mg 11%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 413mg 9%
*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.)

Okra (Abelmoschus esculantus) is one of those vegetables folks just love to hate. Also known as gumbo, bamia, quingombo, and bhindi, this vegetable becomes a slimy mess if it isn't prepared properly.

Okra is an acquired taste in Turkey, just as it is everywhere else in the world. If you're a fan of its earthy, woody taste, you'll be sure to enjoy this simple Turkish recipe for 'zeytinyağlı ​bamya' (zay-TEEN'-yah-luh BAHM'-yah), or okra with olive oil.

Like most other Turkish vegetable dishes cooked with olive oil, this recipe contains only a few simple ingredients, allowing the true flavor of the okra to shine through.

If you plan to use fresh okra, make sure the pods are small, young, and tender. The older and larger the pods, the tougher and slimier they can get.


  • 2 1/2 pounds (1 kilogram) okra, young and very fresh, or frozen

  • 1/2 lemon. juiced

  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large tomato, ripe, peeled, and cut in small cubes

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil. for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. If you are using fresh okra, trim the rough stems from the ends of the pods and remove the thin membrane covering the stem end. Handle them gently as not to damage them. Rinse them several times in a wire strainer under ice cold water, turning them with your hands.

  2. Drain them and let them soak in one cup of vinegar for about 30 minutes. Wash them again to remove all the vinegar. Repeat this process once more.

  3. After your okra soaks in vinegar and is rinsed the second time, it's ready to use. If you're using frozen okra, it's ready to use right out of the bag.

  4. Peel the onion and coarsely chop it. Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan and fry the onions until tender and reduced. Add the fresh or frozen okra.

  5. Wash and peel your tomato. Dice it into small cubes and add it to the pan. Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and sugar and turn the mixture around gently with a large wooden spoon.

  6. Add the water, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover. Let the okra simmer gently. The amount of liquid in the pan will increase as the vegetables release their own juice; you should simmer them until the okra are very tender and the liquid is almost gone.

  7. Test your okra a few times while cooking. If they are tender but there is still a lot of liquid, remove the lid so the liquid evaporates more quickly.

  8. When the okra is tender and the liquid is almost gone, turn off the heat and let the pan cool down to room temperature. Transfer the okra to your serving platter.

  9. Drizzle the 1/3 cup of olive oil over the top of the dish. You can serve the okra room temperature or cover and refrigerate it before serving.