AskDefine | Define okra

Dictionary Definition

okra

Noun

1 long green edible beaked pods of the okra plant
2 tall coarse annual of Old World tropics widely cultivated in southern United States and West Indies for its long mucilaginous green pods used as basis for soups and stews; sometimes placed in genus Hibiscus [syn: gumbo, okra plant, lady's-finger, Abelmoschus esculentus, Hibiscus esculentus]
3 long mucilaginous green pods; may be simmered or sauteed but used especially in soups and stews [syn: gumbo]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

of African origin

Noun

  1. the annual plant, Hibiscus esculentus, of Ethiopian origin, grown for its edible pods.

Translations

Finnish

Pronunciation

  • Hyphenation: ok·ra

Etymology 1

Adjective

  1. ochre

Noun

  1. the color ochre

Etymology 2

Noun

  1. okra

Anagrams

Icelandic

Verb

okra
  1. practice usury

Extensive Definition

Okra (American English: [ˈoʊkɹə], British English [ˈəʊkɹə], [ˈɒkɹə]), also known as lady's finger, bhindi (Hindustani) and gumbo, is a flowering plant in the mallow family (along with such species as cotton and cocoa) valued for its edible green fruits. Its scientific name is Abelmoschus esculentus.
The species is an annual or perennial, growing to 2 m tall. The leaves are 10–20 cm long and broad, palmately lobed with 5–7 lobes. The flowers are 4–8 cm diameter, with five white to yellow petals, often with a red or purple spot at the base of each petal. The fruit is a capsule up to 18 cm long, containing numerous seeds.

Etymology, origin and distribution

Okra is occasionally referred to by an early, now incorrect synonym, Hibiscus esculentus L. The name "okra" is of West African origin and is cognate with "" in Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria. In various Bantu languages, okra is called "kingombo" or a variant thereof, and this is the origin of its name in Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and French. The Arabic "" is the basis of the names in the Middle East, the Balkans, Turkey, Greece, North Africa and Russia . In Southern Asia, its name is usually a variant of "bhindi" or "vendi".
The species apparently originated in the Ethiopian Highlands, though the manner of distribution from there is undocumented. The Egyptians and Moors of the 12th and 13th centuries used the Arab word for the plant, suggesting that it had come from the east. The plant may thus have been taken across the Red Sea or the Bab-el-Mandeb strait to the Arabian Peninsula, rather than north across the Sahara. One of the earliest accounts is by a Spanish Moor who visited Egypt in 1216, who described the plant under cultivation by the locals who ate the tender, young pods with meal.
From Arabia, the plant spread around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and eastward. The lack of a word for okra in the ancient languages of India suggests that it arrived there in the Common Era. The plant was introduced to the Americas by ships plying the Atlantic slave trade by 1658, when its presence was recorded in Brazil. It was further documented in Suriname in 1686. Okra may have been introduced to the southeastern North America in the early 18th century and gradually spread. It was being grown as far north as Philadelphia by 1748, while Thomas Jefferson noted that it was well established in Virginia by 1781. It was commonplace throughout the southern United States by 1800 and the first mention of different cultivars was in 1806. and other parts of the eastern Mediterranean, okra is widely used in a thick stew made with vegetables and meat. In Indian cooking, it is sauteed or added to gravy-based preparations and is very popular in South India. In Caribbean islands okra is cooked up and eaten as soup, often with fish. In Haiti it is use in rice and maiz and also with meat for sauce. It became a popular vegetable in Japanese cuisine toward the end of the 20th century, served with soy sauce and katsuobushi or as tempura. It is used as a thickening agent in gumbo. Breaded, deep fried okra is served in the southern United States. The immature pods may also be pickled.
Okra leaves may be cooked in a similar manner as the greens of beets or dandelions. The leaves are also eaten raw in salads. Okra seeds may be roasted and ground to form a non-caffeinated substitute for coffee.
Okra forms part of several regional 'signature' dishes. Frango com quiabo (chicken with okra) is a Brazilian dish that is especially famous in the region of Minas Gerais. Gumbo, a hearty stew whose key ingredient is okra, is found throughout the Gulf Coast of the United States. The word "gumbo" is based on the Central Bantu word for okra, "kigombo", via the Caribbean Spanish "guingambó" or "quimbombó". The oil content of the seed is quite high at about 40%. Oil yields from okra crops are also high. At 794 kg/ha, the yield was exceeded only by that of sunflower oil in one trial.
Unspecified parts of the plant reportedly possess diuretic properties.

Cultivation

Abelmoschus esculentus is among the most heat- and drought-tolerant vegetable species in the world. It will tolerate poor soils with heavy clay and intermittent moisture. Severe frost can damage the pods.
It is an annual crop in the southern United States.
In cultivation, the seeds are soaked overnight prior to planting to a depth of 1-2 cm. Germination occurs between six days (soaked seeds) and three weeks. Seedlings require ample water. The seed pods rapidly become fibrous and woody and must be harvested within a week of the fruit being pollinated to be edible.

See also

References

External links

okra in Arabic: بامية
okra in Min Nan: Kak-tāu
okra in German: Okra
okra in Modern Greek (1453-): Μπάμια
okra in Spanish: Abelmoschus esculentus
okra in Esperanto: Gombo
okra in Persian: بامیه
okra in French: Gombo
okra in Indonesian: Bendi
okra in Italian: Hibiscus esculentus
okra in Hebrew: במיה
okra in Malay (macrolanguage): Bendi
okra in Dutch: Okra
okra in Japanese: オクラ
okra in Polish: Ketmia piżmowa
okra in Portuguese: Quiabo
okra in Russian: Бамия
okra in Finnish: Okra
okra in Swedish: Okra
okra in Telugu: బెండకాయ
okra in Tagalog: Okra
okra in Turkish: Bamya
okra in Ukrainian: Бамія
okra in Chinese: 秋葵
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