The humble green pod called okra, gombo, okra or hibiscusesculentus is said to come from Africa and some place its origin in the mountains of Ethiopia, but no one imagines its hidden and diverse properties.
The first written data on the plant indicate that the Spanish Moors were the ones who spread it around the Mediterranean, but logic indicates that it was already widespread around Africa and that the slaves of that continent brought it to the New World.
Renée Méndez Capote, chronicler of Cuban society of the twentieth century, says that “ancient Cuban cuisine was space, aroma, truth. Because everything was what it was and there was no deception in anything. Everything was done honestly with physical effort, time and patience. “ And to his recipe for okra, we dedicated this note.
The okra has nutritional values rich in fibre and vitamins, as well as potassium and calcium. Its elongated, ribbed and gelatinous fruit is widely used in the stews of the Caribbean, Creole, Cajun and Brazilian cuisines. The okra contains a gel-like juice that gives the sticky quality to the famous Gumbo Creole dish of Louisiana and has a special flavor, similar to eggplant.
Like many Cuban dishes reflected in the music of this archipelago, the okra could not avoid having its own ‘note’, “okra that is slippery for ‘dry yucca”, because it is eaten as a stew, but also in salads accompanied by avocado, tomato and cucumber.
Among its medicinal uses is the flesh of the fruit as an effective remedy for the liver, eating it at the same time every day cooked or in a salad. When taken for therapeutic purposes, it should be eaten with the juice it gives off during cooking.
The chewed seeds fight bad breath; it is used as a stimulant; it is also used as an aphrodisiac. The emulsion prepared by grinding the seeds with water has antispasmodic properties.
It is also said to be an antidote to the venom of some snakes. It has use as an insecticide. It is also applied as a treatment for intense itching on the skin. It is used in aromatherapy for the treatment of depression and anxiety.
We recommend that readers, however, first consult the doctor before using these remedies that may not be appropriate for the disease or discomfort they present.
As if all those benefits were enough, the okra also has industrial uses. The oil extracted from the seeds is very esteemed by the perfumery industry.
Recipe of okra by Renée Méndez Capote Ingredients: 1 lb. of tender okra 1 lb. of pork meat 2 ripe bananas 2 large spoonfuls of sesame 1 large onion 10 tomatoes 3 cloves of garlic Salt Ground oregano Cumin Lard of pork Lemon
Preparation: Wash the okra, remove both ends and cut into slices. Add plenty of lemon to remove the okra’s gel. In the pan where the okra is going to cook, add two or three spoonfuls of melted butter and the finely chopped seasoning. Add the washed pork meat.
Some people add dried shrimp. Add salt, cumin powder and oregano, the okra and then half a litre of water.
When it boils, add balls of cooked and salted plantain banana. Cover well and simmer for half an hour. Then the toasted sesame is added. Let it cook a few more minutes.