OkraAriel achieved a trinity of Firsts today.

First night without a nappy on (and no accidents! πŸ™‚ ) First walk all the way into town and home again with no pushchair for backup – it’s probably a bit more than half a mile each way. And, first time eating okra, which I think just about qualifies as an interesting vegetable. More interesting than a tomato anyway.

Well here is one interesting fact about okra, anyway:

Most people know that it is also called “ladies fingers”(I assume because the shape does slightly resemble a finger, although I’m not sure that it is an especially ladylike finger). But did you know that in some places it is also called “gumbo”? Etymologically the two words are apparently related, both originating in Africa and taken from there (along with the vegetable itself) to America as a result of the slave trade. The thick stewy soupy dishes called gumbo in the southern part of the USA are named after the vegetable, which is a key ingredient therein.

For the uninitiated, the skin has a velvety texture (like a hazel leaf) and the inside is sort of like a shiny gel studded with softish seeds. It doesn’t taste of a great deal, in all honesty. The taste reminds me of runner beans.

So. Here is the gumbo I made:

Gumbo (vegan)

Take: 1 onion, 2-3 cloves garlic, oil, 1 red pepper, 8-10 okra, some spices*, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, 1tsp vegetable stock powder, 500g carton passata, and a nice of sploodge of tomato puree.

[*I have no idea exactly which spices I used because I used a jar labelled “Mix” that I found when sorting out my herb/spice collection this afternoon. I think I mixed some spices for a camping trip so I would only have to take one general purpose jar. Also, I started with some mustard seeds just because and later dded extra cumin because the kitchen smelled of rotting potatoes (don’t ask, but UGH) and my nose was playing tricks on me as a result. Somewhere along the line the whole thing ended up Quite Spicy – Ariel demanded that I give her a bunch of natural yoghurt to stir into hers! Anyway, just use some nice spices that you like, OK?]

1. Chop the onion and garlic, fry gently in the oil in a nice big pan.
2. Dice the pepper and chop the okra, then add to the pan along with the spices and cook gently for a few minutes.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients. Put some extra water in the pan so that the consistency is just a little thinner than you are aiming for – on the soupy side of gumbo. Cook for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
4. That’s it! Serve and eat.

Serves maybe 3-4 people as a starter or side dish, about 2 if this is the main event.

That thing about the yoghurt was no joke. πŸ˜‰