Sunday, September 6, 2009

Okra with Lamb Shanks : Moza b'il Bamia

Even though there are many famous Egyptian dishes, this one is truly one of the signature family meals that people really enjoy on a regular basis. The combination of vegetables, meat and tomato sauce served with rice is a recurring theme in Egyptian cuisine. Traditionally the in-season vegetables are used in dishes similar to this one, different types of meat are substituted as well. This particular dish is made with lamb shanks, but  both the meat and vegetable can be substituted based on availability. It is common to make similar dishes with green beans, turnips, peas, cauliflower, or even spinach.  For example, see our Mediterranean Home-Style Chicken which is a very similar dish, but used chicken and green beans.

In preparation for labor day, where I was going to repeat my Spring Grilled Feast; I was preparing a leg of lamb. Lizabetti wanted me to reserve the shank for another dish,  so I cut off the shank and removed the bone from the leg of lamb. We decided to make okra for a change.

We served the dish with saffron rice and a healthy tabouleh as the salad. The tabouleh and okra both have lots of fiber. The dish is loaded with anti-oxidants in the tomato, onion, and garlic. So even though it has some meat it is also very nutritious. I also used some turmeric in the dish for its anti-inflammatory benefits.


  • Lizabetti;s Mediterranean Dry Rub
  • 2 Lamb shanks, about 2 lb's (1 Kilo) total weight before cooking.
  • 1 lb (.5 kilo) of lamb leg meat, cut into cubes. You can use any lamb meat, or  any meat for that matter. There is no rule against using chicken instead.
  • 2 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 lb of okra. The smaller okra is better tasting and more tender. We use frozen okra from Market Basket because it is generally higher in quality than we can buy fresh in New England.
  • 2 Tbsp garlic, chopped.
  • 1 medium onion, chopped.
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parsley, chopped.
  • 1 Tbsp dry Oregano.
  • 1 Tbsp cumin.
  • 1 Tbsp dry parsley.
  • 1/2 tsp dry coriander.
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric.
  • 1 cup red wine.

  1. Coat the meat with Lizabetti;s Mediterranean Dry Rub. It is best to do this 1 day in advance and keep the meat in the fridge over night. This will allow the flavor to permeate the meat.
  2. Thaw the okra if frozen. Rinse with cold water and drain. You can just pull the okra out about the time you start cooking because it gets added later in the process.
  3. Preheat pan. I used a heavy Croisette pan. If you use one make sure to not exceed 5 out of 10 on your stove temperature setting. If you use a regular pan, use medium-high heat.
  4. Add some olive oil, once the oil is hot add the onions.
  5. Cook the onions until light brown, then add the garlic. Mix in thoroughly.
  6. Once the garlic is light brown, push the mixture aside and add the shanks.

  1. Brown the shanks on all sides.
  2. Mix the onion, garlic and shanks thoroughly.
  3. Add the cubed lamb meat and brown on all sides.
  4. Add the fresh parley and stir in.

  1. Add the dry ingredients, mix in thoroughly.
  2. Add the wine, stir in. Let the wine simmer until it changes to a nice brown color.

  1. Pour in the tomato sauce.
  2. Bring to a simmer, cover and turn down to low heat. If you are using a Croisette pan, set your stove to 2.5 out of 10. Otherwise set your stove to medium-low heat. 
  3. Check periodically to make sure that the mixture is not boiling hard, it should just be simmering. If it is boiling, turn down the heat.
  4. Cook for 1 hour or until the shanks are tender. A fork should penetrate the shank down to the bone without too much resistance. You will know because the bone starts to protrude from the bone as shown below.
  5. Add the okra and mix in.
  6. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until the okra is tender, but not mushy.
  7. Serve with white rice or saffron rice. We did it with saffron rice because our daughter loves it so much.

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