This ground beef and okra stew is inspired by a traditional Persian dish called “khoresht bamieh”. Before the angry comments about authenticity roll in, please give me a moment to explain the reasoning behind atrocious changes I’ve made to this beautiful tradition.
If you read my posts, you’ll notice that I often categorize meals as weeknight-friendly vs special occasion appropriate. I love to cook and eat [a lot] but I also care about maintaining a healthy physique. To keep me and Kenny’s waistlines from ever-expanding I make tweaks to traditional favorites so we can enjoy them more often.
The first change I made was swap very lean ground beef for the bigger chunks of meat that khoresht bamieh calls for. This reduced the overall calories and eliminated the need for a long simmer. When time is no object I love to braise large cuts of meat to make various khoresht, barbacoa or pot roast. But, like many of my readers, I have a full time job so I usually opt for ground meats during the week. Another change I made was to use frozen, cut okra. I can keep the frozen veg on hand regardless of the season and there’s no need to wash or cut anything. Simply rip the bag open and add the frozen okra to the stew.
Last but not least I had to tackle the rice. Well cooked basmati rice is a wonder to behold. It’s scrumptious, healthy in moderation, and many of the world’s most fit cultures rely on rice as the foundation of their diet. However, my husband and I both have a family history of type II Diabetes. Reducing white starches from our daily menu is one of the steps we take to decrease our risk so I’ve paired this stew with riced cauliflower, upping the vegetable quotient as an added benefit.
Real deal khoresht bamieh is cooked with chunks of beef or lamb, braised for a lovingly long time, and served over fragrant basmati rice. It’s a thing of beauty and I’ll probably post my real version of it someday. For now, I cook this ground beef and okra stew for a quicker, leaner, and more vegetable forward meal that Kenny and I enjoy. I hope you’ll enjoy it too!
28-ounce can plum tomatoes with their juices (such as san marzano)
1 pounds frozen cut okra
2 pounds riced cauliflower (I buy mine from Trader Joe’s but you can make your own by pulsing chunks of cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles short grains of rice)
Alternatively: serve the stew with cooked basmati rice instead of cauliflower rice
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium low heat in a shallow dutch oven or large saucepan.
Add the diced onion and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and soft, 6-8 minutes.
Add the ground beef to the onions, increase the heat to high and cook while you break the meat up into small pieces using a wooden spoon.
Continue to cook the meat until it’s no longer pink and the liquid has evaporated.
Add the tomato paste, tamarind paste (if using), turmeric, cayenne, and cinnamon. Stir to combine the meat and the tomato paste, cook until the spices are fragrant and the paste is darker in color, 3-5 minutes. Add splashes of water to the pan (especially if you’re using an enamel glazed dutch oven) as needed to deglaze any tomato paste that’s sticking to the pan and turning too dark.
Add the can of tomatoes and their juices to the meat, fill the 28-ounce can halfway with water and add the water to the beef along with ½ teaspoon salt.
Use your wooden spoon to break the tomatoes up a bit, bring the sauce to a simmer.
Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes, stirring and scraping the pan occasionally to prevent burning.
In the meantime, prepare the cauliflower rice.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until it’s hot but not smoking, 3 minutes.
Add the riced cauliflower and sautee until it just starts to brown a bit on the edges.
Add ½ teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of water, continue to sautee the cauliflower until the water evaporates and the cauliflower is cooked through.
Remove from the heat and set aside.
After the beef and tomatoes have been simmering for 30 minutes add the frozen okra along with ½ teaspoon more salt.
Let the beef and okra simmer for another 20 minutes over low heat.
Taste the beef and add more salt if necessary.
Serve the cauliflower rice in shallow bowls and top with desired amount of beef and okra stew.
This makes enough for 2 people with a couple days worth of leftovers. You can reduce the meat, spices, tomatoes, and cauliflower by half, keeping the okra amount the same.