Chicken Breasts with Ladies’ Fingers

Between the ages of seven and ten I lived in the dusty city of Damascus, in a large, cool house with fountains, palm trees and white fan-tailed pigeons in the garden. When I was not making mud houses in the dust with the gardener s children, or being grilled by my strict Scots governess, I spent my time in the kitchen. I loved nibbling the freshly made flat bread and tasting the sharp-flavoured apricots which dried in the sun on the flat roof outside. I liked seeing the basket of unusual fruit and vegetables which the cook brought in from the market, and I thought that ladies’ fingers’, which they called okra, was the most strange and magiçal vegetable of them all. Now you can buy them fresh in any town or city where there is a Cypriot or Indian community, so here is an easy way to use them.

Ingredients

  • 6 boned chicken breasts (available at some branches of Sainsbury’s or Marks & Spencer)
  • salt, black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ lb tomatoes, chopped (225 g)
  • 1 large green pimento, chopped
  • 6 oz okra (175 g) – available in markets and at Indian and Cypriot grocers. The Indian name for them is Bindhi.
  • handful of mint leaves – roughly chopped
  • olive oil
  • butter

Method

Rub the chicken breasts with the crushed garlic, salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Fry very gently in a little butter until done, about 20 minutes, turning once or twice. Arrange them on a serving dish and leave in a very low oven to keep warm. In a deep frying pan, preferably with a lid, heat some olive oil and add the chopped tomatoes, pimento, and the okra with the heads and tails cut off, salt, black pepper and the chopped garlic. Stir well together. Cover the pan with a lid or foil and simmer gently for 20–30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the chopped mint leaves, pour the mixture on top of the chicken breasts and serve with a dish of long-grain rice.

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