Tropical exotic fruits and vegetables Info, recipe: Okra, Cassava ...

  • Okra: top diet vegetable very low in calorie, digestible and laxative 

The okra (Abelmoschus esculentus / Hibiscus esculentus) Also Called “Greek Horn», “Asparagus of the poor", "okra", "lady finger...,
Okra is a very old distant cousin of hibiscus, native to Africa. The trace of okra dates back to over 4000 years in Ethiopia/Egypt, where it was already consumed (as wild plant) at the time of the pharaohs. Okra afterwards spread across other continents with the help of coastal navigation then in the wake of slave’s caravans.
Okra is a tall plant up to 2 meters high and made ​​of long and branched erect stems. Its leaves are composed of several lobes with serrated edges and covered with spines that can cause itching.                  
Okra flowering is a spectacular sight. The plant is adorned with large pink or white flowers depending on the variety, with a purple heart.
The fruits are hairy (including a smooth variety in the USA), usually green but can also be red, pink and purple.
The fruit also called “capsule” has generally an oblong shape reminiscence of horns.It can be 3 to 30 cm long. The shape and size of the okra may vary depending on the species. The “capsules” contain about 50 edible seeds. They are white and soft as the fruit is young, then grow very quickly, brown and become very hard. They can then be roasted and consumed as a beverage whose taste is close to the coffee.
In cooking, it is better to use okra very young. Just mature, the crunchy and tender consistency becomes fibrous.  The seeds darken and become hard.  Okra then loses its culinary interest.
Very fragile, okra fears bruise. It will be kept a few days in the crisper, stored in a paper bag preferably. It can be frozen after being washed, stemmed and sliced. Okra can also be dried (Sahel regions) and consumed after being crushed or pounded.
Okra is a top diet vegetable. Very low in calories (25-40 Kcal/100g) it is rich in vitamins (C & P) calcium and other trace elements. Cooked or raw, okra is believed to have many medicinal properties according to its consumers since ancient times. Mostly: highly digestible, diuretic (dried seeds tea) and laxative.
Okra fruits are eaten cooked preferably, as a vegetable or condiment. Okra can also be eaten raw as salad. Okra leaves are also eaten cooked in some tropical regions, but it is very rare.
One of the main barriers to eating okra for the uninformed and hesitant is it mucilaginous (gelatinous, viscous) substance. Yet it is one of its main health benefits: it gives the digestible and laxative particular quality. Okra’s mucilaginous substance is a great flavor enhancer (finely crushed or mixed) and a binder for delicate soups and stews...
To reduce the viscosity of the okra it is better to cook small amount. Do not cook the whole fruit too long and do not cut it finely or into slices.
The more okra is finely chopped, crushed, pounded and cooked, the more it is gelatinous. It is also possible to soak in water with some lemon and vinegar. Cut into desired shapes and thicknesses and then fry in a pan with a little amount of oil before eating or use with other food preparations (soups, stews) Okra has a pleasant, delicious and subtle taste once overcome its viscosity. Raw in salads, viscosity and tart taste are regulated by lemon and vinaigrette.
Recipes for consumers put off by the viscosity of the okra:
A few slices of stemmed okra , washed and cut into thin slices as condiments for meat soups and stew (lamb, veal and beef), add salt and pepper. Delicious, fragrant, decorative (green rosettes with white circles)
Verno’s okra broth: 3 thinly sliced ​​okra, 1 liter of water, 1 vegetable broth, and 50 g of krill (powdered preferably) or dried desalted fish. Cook over medium heat until okra is done (10-20 min). Real treat during the cold winter evenings.
© 16/02/2012 No part may be adapted,  reproduced, distributed, translated, published in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the authors (texts and images) and

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