This Vegan Tagine of Okra, Tomatoes and Onions is a light, slightly tangy tagine full of herby flavours, topped with delicious caramelised onions. So easy to put together and once again, you can cook it in a regular saucepan or wok or make it in a tagine.
The first time I tasted this very basic vegan tagine recipe was in the town of Sid Bel Abbès in Algeria. Simple but extremely tasty with the topped caramelised onions and is reminiscent of tfaia tagines, which are tagines topped with said onions.
Since then I’ve had it on a number of occasions, many times in Morocco and on half those occasions, the okra tagine was made with minced beef or lamb.
I must admit, making it with a little meat deepens the flavour of the whole tagine and is the way that my husband likes to eat this dish, because he hates tomatoes, isn’t a big fan of okra and is undecided when it comes to onions! So our Vegan Tagine today is a bit of a non starter really, for him.
Which is why when I make it at home, without any meat, it always accompanies another main dish, whether another meat tagine or as a side to bryanis and other North African or Middle Eastern recipes.
How to Serve our Vegan Tagine?
With fresh bread, just the way I like eating all tagines! Nothing allows you to soak up, literally, the delights a tagine has to offer, than bread! Needless to say, you can serve with any starch you like.
I don’t have much in terms of advice with today’s recipe, it’s pretty straightforward. I keep the okra whole, instead of slicing them for two reasons:
- We don’t have a gooey gelatinous tagine, which not everyone is a fan of, even if I am!
- It makes for a prettier presentation, having the tagine meet in the middle, as you see.
Once again, we’ll be making chermoula as the base of the “sauce” and flavour in our Vegan Tagine. It’s a very mild and light chermoula, if you compare it to the other ones we use in our Tagine Masterclass.
Vegan Tagine Recipe
One of the identifying flavours of this okra, tomato and onion tagine is the final topping of fried, caramelised onions. Frying the onions in the tagine will take longer, as for starters, you’ll be waiting about 10 minutes for your tagine to heat up. So, sometimes, I get that done in a frying pan, while the tagine is cooking. And that’s the method we shall be employing today, for simplicity.
Of course, using the tagine to caramelise the onions will add just that little bit of extra flavour to the other half of the onions that will form the base. So, fry your onions in the tagine if you have the time and the inclination. But don’t fret too much about this point, as this vegan tagine is going to be eaten with the caramelised onion, remember?
Spice level of this Vegan Tagine: I’ve had all sorts, so it is up to you to spice up or down, and this can be achieved with the paprika as well as the green chilli you use. Either use a hot paprika or a hotter type of green chilli, like a scotch bonnet or Thai birds eye. Or both.
Buying Okra – look for the bright green, firm ones. These are the younger, fresher okra and will have less tendency to split when cooking whole. Stay well away from the khaki green coloured ones and most certainly, leave those with obvious black, brown or grey streaks.
Not a fan of okra? Use green beans or broad beans. Green beans will need a shorter cooking time, maybe about 10 minutes less.
That’s it. Let’s get our aprons on!
More recipes in Tagine Masterclass:
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If you make it, post it on any social medium and tag @azlinbloor
A Vegan Tagine of Okra, Tomatoes and Onions
- 350 g fresh, whole okra
- 2 large onions
- 5 medium firm tomatoes
- 5 sprigs of fresh coriander leaves cilantro
- 1 Tbsp EV olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 fresh green chilli spicy or not, your choice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- pinch ground cumin
- 1 small handful fresh coriander leaves cilantro
- 4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
- 1 Tbsp EV olive oil
- 4 Tbsp water
- Make the chermoula by placing all the ingredients for it in a chopper and chop/blend to a fairly fine mix.
- Slice both onions and 4 of the tomatoes into rings.
- Chop the other tomato into small cubes, as you can see in the images.
- Line your tagine (or saucepan) with some of the onion rings to form a single layer.
- Follow this with all the tomato rings, even if you form 2-3 layers.
- Then lie the okra all around the base, coming together in the middle to form a cone shape. Don’t worry too much about a perfect cone, given the different lengths of the okra, this won’t be all that easy.
- Scatter the chopped tomatoes all over.
- Finish by pouring the chermoula all over the okra.
- Place the tagine (or saucepan) on the stove and heat on medium heat to bring to a simmer. Don’t forget the diffuser under the tagine!
- When the content of your pot has come to a simmer, lower the heat down to low and simmer slowly until the okra are all cooked. This will take only about 15 minutes in the saucepan and 20-25 minutes in the tagine, depending on how cooked you like your okra. Remember that the vegetables will continue cooking even after you take it off the heat. So always take it off earlier, rather than later.
- While the tagine is cooking, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small frying pan on medium heat and fry the onions for a good 15 minutes until they are a golden colour with burnt/brown bits. Turn the heat down if you have to, if they are browning too quickly. Set aside when done to serve.
- Top with the caramelised onions and scatter the chopped coriander leaves all over and serve with some fresh bread, couscous or as an accompaniment, as mentioned above.