Egyptian okra stew, the bamya recipe


Bamya is a very traditional Egyptian dish but it is still very common in all Arab countries. It is usually cooked with lamb, however I am not a big fan of lamb (despite of being middle eastern) so I usually cook it with beef instead. If you are a vegetarian, you can still follow the exact recipe but replace the beef stock with a vegetable one. The interesting fact or perhaps it is an Egyptian myth about beef stew is that they always taste even way more delicious the next day.

In general, cooking any Egyptian vegetable stew include 3 main steps:

  • Preparing the beef stock
  • Preparing the tomato sauce
  • Mixing all together: the beef, tomato sauce and the veggies

Also, some Egyptians like to add an extra step at the very end of this dish but I usually skip it since I am always in a rush to eat. So, some move the cooked bamya stew in a casserole and place it in the oven to bake for 15 minutes or more. Enjoy the recipe!


2 lbs beef stew cut into cubes
2 large onions diced into 1/4 ”
2 tablespoons corn oil
4 bay leaves
1 lime juice
1 teaspoon 7 spices
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 chopped/squeezed  fresh tomatoes by your food processor
1 bag of frozen okra (if you have time, go fresh, flavors are way better of course)
1 tomato cut in half
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Cooking the beef

Use half of the diced onions and rub them well with sprinkled salt and pepper (little bit) and set them aside.
Wash the beef and pat dry them.
Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the beef.
Add the onions mix to the beef and mix well. Add the cardamom, lime juice and the 7 spices on the beef.

Marinated beef cubes with onions and spices
Marinated beef cubes with onions and spices

In a medium pot, heat 2 tablespoons of corn oil.
Add the beef mix and stir until it browned.

Brown the beef
Brown the beef

Add 2 cups of boiling water on the beef.
Adjust salt and pepper (about 3/4 teaspoon but taste to make sure).
Add the tomato  that is cut in half and the bay leaves to the beef in the pot.
Cover and lower the heat for 1 hour.


Preparing the tomato sauce

In a separate pot, add the olive oil, the minced garlic and the second half of the diced onions. Stir until it becomes a bit yellowish.
Add the tomato juice and the tomato paste.

Tomato sauce
Tomato sauce

Stir then add 1 cup of water.
Add the sugar, little bit of salt and pepper since we will adjust it at the end.
Set aside.


Preparing the beef stew with veggies together

When the meat is done.
Add the frozen okra.


Add the tomato sauce mix into the pot where the beef and broth are .
Add the cumin.
Bring to boil.
Cover and simmer for 45 minutes on low heat.
If it needs more sauce, add a little bit of water but I like the tomato sauce more on the thick side.
Taste to adjust salt and pepper.
The next step is very optional and usually done by some Egyptians. However, you can skip it but I like to do it as it adds extra flavors. In a small pan, add 1 tablespoon of corn oil, 1 minced garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom. Stir until yellowish then pour that mix in the pot. Also, some people like to put the bamya in the oven for 15 minutes or so to bake. I usually do not though and it still tastes so yummy 🙂


Best served with Egyptian calrose rice. Recipe of the calrose rice is here.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Bougainvillean says:

    Hello, Simona, I really do like your recipe! You explain it simply, the bay leaves add depth of flavour and thankfully you detail preparation using frozen okra which is so much easier! My family like me to use Coriander powder in the optional but truly yummy add -in with the garlic. I was interested to see that you use Cardamom powder. I am happy I discovered this site on my search for a Bamia of Okra recipe and I’ll bookmark it for my next visit. Thank you .


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