Ladies’ Fingers or Okra in Tomato Sauce – Bemieh Bil Zeit

  • Servings: 2

This vegetable is also known as Gombo in West Africa. It has many health benefits such as vitamins A and C and is also a good source of magnesium.

It’s a common ingredient in some creole and Cajun dishes.

It’s not liked by everyone because of the “slime” that generates when it is cooked. But there is a way to remove the slime and it is, first, by frying it then sprinkling some lemon juice before cooking it in a sauce.

The recipe herein is Lebanese and meatless but it can be cooked also with meat (usually lamb).

NB: in Lebanon the green okra is picked and sold when it is still quite small, unlike other countries where the okra has really the length of a lady’s finger. You can also buy the dried ones but these need to be hydrated before being cooked.


  • 500g of fresh okra, side stem cutoff, washed and patted dry
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 4 medium tomatoes (or equivalent cherry tomatoes) + 1 tsp of tomato paste
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 or 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Step 1

Put a frying pan on medium heat and fry the okra in olive oil until it is cooked and slightly coloured. Remove from the pan, sprinkle with lemon juice and put aside.

Step 2

In the same pan, fry the onions until translucent then add the garlic with the coriander and stir fry until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste diluted in 3 tbsp of water. Season with salt and pepper and keep cooking until the fresh tomatoes have blended and formed a nice thick enough sauce. Now add the fried okra and keep cooking for about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.

Step 3

It’s best when served at room temperature.

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