Sharing the Love (of Okra)

Beef Recipes, Others, stew

Cooking and writing actually calm me down. And lately, I think I would not be the only one needing to simmer down. With the news being like they are, from here and there and everywhere, it is hard to disengage from it and not be angry at the world. But anyway, today is a new day and I will do my best to contribute love by cooking and writing more.

I fell in love with Okra because of Leena, a dear friend of mine in Chicago. Many years ago, Farah and I came by Leena’s house for dinner. She had prepared her fabulous Syrian stew made of okra and beef in this tomato broth (bamya). I was hooked and I would always order that stew whenever Jeff and I went to Mediterranean restaurants. I asked Leena for a recipe a while back but I never got a chance to make it. A few weeks ago, after a year of moving back to Indonesia, I began to miss all sorts of non-Indonesian cuisines. I thought of bamya. Found that recipe in my email and it was dated December 2013. That felt like a lifetime ago. Before Jeff and I bought a house in Michigan, before we had our daughter, before we sold the house, before we moved back to our homeland. Why does time move even faster once we hit 30, 35, or 36?

Anyway, I dedicate this article to my beloved, beautiful, fashion-inspiration source, Syrian friend, whose friendship I treasure, and whose homeland has been on my mind.

Below is her Okra Stew recipe, with a little bit of my touch

1 bag of fresh okra (here in Surabaya, the stores carry them fresh. One bag contains maybe 10-15 okras.) – Chopped into little cuts.
1 lb. (or 1/4 kg works too) beef stew meat
1 small onion – diced
4 cloves garlic – roughly chopped
3 fresh tomatoes – diced
Salt, pepper, basil, and oregano to taste
Jasmine rice
I added: a handful of parsley, a pinch cumin powder, coriander powder, and chili powder.
Prepare beef stew :
  • Heat up a little bit of canola oil, add onions. Cook for two minutes.
  • Add beef and cook to well done. Set aside.
  • In a deep saucepan, heat some oil and saute the garlic until pink.  Add okra.  With a wooden spoon, gently toss on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until “slimy strings” disappear.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the beef and tomatoes to the okra pot. Let simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • I add chopped parsley, oregano, cumin, coriander, and chili powder to taste and let simmer for another 15 minutes more until everything is cooked and melded together. The okra should be so nice and tender once they are done cooking. Serve hot and with rice.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!



Spicy Beef Stew

Beef Recipes

(My version of Rendang. Origin: West Sumatra)

Rendang, a favorite

It seems like many cultures have their own versions of beef stew.” my guy said last night as we tried a delicious Middle-Eastern style Okra and Beef Stew. I nodded in agreement as I thought of other beef stews, like the French beouf bourguignon or the Indonesian rendang, a spicy beef stew from the West Sumatra region (and surely, there are plenty more delicious stews from all around). Their taste might be different from each other but they all make wonderful, substantial, and nourishing meals. 

The beef-stew talk last night got me thinking about my spicy beef stew. I looked at my blog and realized that I have yet to write about it. This dish is one of my favorite dish. Traditionally prepared for special occasions, this stew takes a long time to cook. But, just like any other slow-cooked meal, the meat gets to be rich tasting and tender that it just melts in your mouth. This particular dish is less watery than what a stew would typically look like but wait until you taste the sauce. Oh the sauce! After cooking, the liquid that the meat stew in becomes this thick, spice filled, and mouthwatering sauce that I could just eat with rice or bread alone.

A few years back, my mom taught me how to make the dish from scratch. Well, actually, she only told me the five main ingredients: ginger root, galangal root, lemongrass, red hot peppers, and turmeric. When I asked about how much of each I should use, she said that I should try and figure it out myself! She said that was how her mother taught her. I guess we’re big on learning-by-doing in this family. It worked out though. After years of tasting, tweaking, and perfecting, I think I have developed a version that my guy and I like very much. 

Here’s my version of the stew.


  • 2 pounds of stew beef
  • 7-10 long red peppers, like Cayenne peppers (substitute with two red bell peppers if Cayenne is not available)
  • 5-7 Thai peppers (Note: Spicy. Please adjust accordingly)
  • 2 inches of ginger root (peeled)
  • 1 inch of galangal root (peeled)
  • 1 lemongrass (remove the the very top and bottom part)
  • 5-6 shallots
  • 2 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 can of light coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Salt


Chop and mix the following in a food processor:

  • Long red peppers (or bell peppers), Thai peppers, ginger, galangal, shallots, and garlic
  • In a large pot, heat up a tablespoon of Canola oil over medium heat
  • Saute the chopped and mixed spices from the food processor for a minute or two
  • Add beef and stir to make sure it is well coated with the spices
  • Fill up the pot with water enough to cover the beef
  • Add lemongrass, turmeric, and salt
  • Stir well and then bring to boil
  • Add the light coconut milk and stir well
  • Reduce the heat just a little bit, cover the pot with a lid, and let it cook for another hour and a half to two hours until the liquid is reduced by 2/3 (until 1/3 of liquid left)
  • The meat should be fork tender when it’s done
  • Best served with white jasmine rice

Note: Since I enjoy the sauce from this dish SO much, I make my version to have more sauce than how the original would have.

Serve 2 generously