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Vegan 'Western' Main Course Meals
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Stewed Okra and Tempeh
from Vegetarian Resource Center - Boston, USA

  • 4 small onions
  • pinch turmeric powder
  • about 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound (2 packages) tempeh
  • 1 pound tender young small okra, stemmed but left whole and unpierced
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • (pepper and salt are optional, but some seasoning might liven it up)
  • basmati rice
  • 1 tomato cut in wedges, for garnish
Slice 3 of the onions thinly and put them in a small pan with the turmeric and olive oil to cover.
Over medium-high heat, cook the onions, stirring occasionally, to caramelize them, 10 to 15 minutes.
When light gold in color, remove them from the heat to prevent burning; they will continue to cook in the hot oil.
When amber in color and cooled, strain the onions and reserve; they will be greatly reduced in volume, to about 1-1/2 tablespoons.
Also reserve the oil, which, unless burned, is full of flavor.
This much can be done well ahead.

In a wide pan over medium-high flame, heat 2 tablespoons reserved oil, or enough to film the pan.
Sear the cakes of tempeh, turning to brown all sides.
When the moisture has evaporated, add 2 cups of water and the remaining onion, chopped.
Simmer the tempeh, uncovered, until it has cooked throughout and imparted its rich soy flavor to the broth, and the liquid has been reduced, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another pan, heat 4 tablespoons reserved oil.
Add the okra and gently sauté it, turning it carefully.
When it changes from bright green to a mellower color, add the lemon juice, tomato paste, and saffron.
Cook the okra until crisp-tender, about 10 minutes in all.
Do not cut or tear it or let it boil, or it will get sticky and limp.

Just before serving, add the okra to the tempeh strips or chunks with the reserved caramelized onion, and simmer for a few minutes more in order to meld the flavors.
Taste for balance of seasoning, and perhaps pepper or salt to taste.
Serve the okra-tempeh stew with basmati rice and garnish with tomato wedges.

Serves 4 generously.