If we didn't like okra (sometimes called lady fingers or gumbo) for their wonderful taste, we would surely grow them for their big beautiful flowers.
The okra harvesting period is from July to late September, and since they don't bloom all at the same time, you can enjoy their flowers all summer long.
In Greek okra are called bámies, and we use them in many summer dishes. They actually compliment both meat and poultry, but also other vegetables in summer stews. In fact, the most common okra dish is a simple stew with tomatoes, cooked the same way we cook green beans.
Many people don't like okra because they had a bad first experience with their gelatinous sauce, but if you toss them with vinegar and let them stand for an hour in a strainer, you will have a perfect result no matter how you choose to cook them.
For my taste the ideal combination for okra is chicken, a quite popular dish all over Greece.
4 chicken legs (or any other parts)
1 onion chopped
½ cup olive or vegetable oil for frying (about 120gr)
500gr baby okra fresh or frozen
½ cup of olive oil for cooking
300gr chopped fresh tomatoes (or canned)
1Tsp tomato paste
1.5 litres water
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup vinegar to marinate the okra
In a bowl, mix the okra with the vinegar, transfer them to a strainer and let them stand for an hour, until completely strained. Don't wash them, they are ready to be cooked.
In a frying pan over medium heat add 1/2cup of olive or vegetable oil and when hot cook the okra for 2-3 minutes. Remove the okra from the pan and set aside.
In the same skillet with the same oil fry the chicken in batches until lightly golden. Then strain and transfer to a plate.
In a cooking pot over medium heat add the other 1/2cup of olive oil and the chopped onion. When onion has wilted add the chicken, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes and 1 1/2litres of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 50min.
Now that the chicken is almost done, add the okra to the pot, season with salt and pepper and cook for 15 minutes more or until the okra are soft.