Lebanese Dishes / Recipes / Vegan / Vegetarian

Authentic Lebanese vegetarian okra and tomatoes

Okra in tomato sauce

Okra in tomato sauce

Okra is a vegetable that is not used that much in the West but I absolutely love it. It is sold either fresh, frozen or dried and it has many health benefits. Some people might not like it because it can be gooey if not cooked properly. This problem is not an issue if you are using young frozen okra, as I am doing in this recipe, which are pan-fried prior to adding the tomatoes. Lemon juice can also solve this problem completely so you can add some lemon juice to my recipe if using fresh okra.

As a child I used to really enjoy helping mum in preparing okra for our winter food supplies. We would use a needle and a thread to string okra like a necklace, which then was hung up to dry. I do not use the dried ones these days, instead I always keep a few packets of frozen okra in my freezer.

This is a dish that I love to make when I get invited to a friend’s home, and I am asked to contribute. It makes a great side dish. In Lebanon it is usually consumed with flat bread and a salad on the side.

Note: Traditionally many people would deep fry the okra first, which will stop the okra from going gooey. I prefer not to as it soaks up quite a bit of oil. I prefer to just pan fry it. I do not use lemon juice in the traditional recipe, but I recommend that you do use it if you are using fresh okra, or if you prefer a slightly lemony flavour.

Okra in tomato sauce

Okra in tomato sauce

Okra in tomato sauce

Okra in tomato sauce

Prep time: 10 min
Cooking time: 60 min


1 packet of 400 g frozen okra (whole not pieces)
3 medium size brown onions
6 garlic cloves
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/2 tea-spoon seven spice mix / or black pepper
4 table-spoons olive oil
1 tea-spoon sea salt
juice of 1/2 lemon (optional but do add it if using fresh okra)
1/4 cup water

Rinse okra and place aside to defrost. Peel and cut onions in half then slice (photo below). Peel and slice each clove of garlic into two or three pieces.

Heat olive oil in a wide pot, a wok is great, then add onions, fry on medium heat until golden. Add okra and garlic and pan fry for about ten minutes, tossing it every now and then.

Sliced onions pan fried in olive oil

Sliced onions pan-fried in olive oil

Sliced onions and okra pan fried in olive oil

Sliced onions and okra pan-fried in olive oil

Add tomatoes, seven spice and salt, and toss for a few minutes, add water and lemon if you are using it. Bring to boil and let it simmer for about 30 minutes or until sauce is thick and flavouresome and okra is tender and well cooked. Adjust spices and salt to taste if necessary and serve.

Okra in tomato sauce

Okra in tomato sauce


12 thoughts on “Authentic Lebanese vegetarian okra and tomatoes

  1. I grow a huge amount of okra in my garden, partly because I love the vegetable and partly because it is such a beautiful plant. I will definitely be making this in the summer. Thanks also for the idea of drying them – I need to preserve them any way I can.

  2. My sister-in-law is Lebanese – and I’m always fascinated by the unique and delicious flavors in her dishes. I unfortunately am not much of a cook, but I visit blogs like your’s to help guide me. This seems like a recipe that not only would be delicious – it doesn’t appear too difficult – Thank you for sharing

    • AnnMarie, yes this recipe is not difficult at all, many Lebanese dishes are really easy to make, simple yet full of flavour. I do have them grouped in the menu section under Lebanese Dishes, do try a few and I’m more than happy to answer any enquiries. Zeina

      • Thank you. I’m making a list of brave things I’m going to attempt this summer – I’ve just added another. I’m not a timid person – but, get me around any kind of food-speak and I become tongue-twisted. You may hear me cry out while cooking, but I promise to try – thank you for making the recipes easy-to-follow 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s