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The green pods of a tall annual, okra is also known by the descriptive name of lady's fingers.
The parent plant can reach a height of 2m (6ft).
In Greece, okra pods tend to be quite small and slim, but elsewhere they do vary in size. They have to be handled gently, so that they do not get bruised.
The vegetable originated in Africa and is widely used in Creole cooking.
Okra's main claim to fame is that, when sliced, it oozes a sticky liquid, which acts as a thickener when the pods are cooked.
When the pods are cooked whole, they have a sweet taste and a melting texture.
Okra is a real favourite in Greece. It tastes delicious with both meat or chicken, but is more often cooked in a casserole with fresh tomatoes, which is one of my favourite lunches, especially when served with chunks of feta cheese and slices of crusty bread.
When preparing okra for cooking whole, pare off the conical head from each pod, using a small sharp knife, either making a straight cut or angling the knife slightly.
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