The products of the plant are mucilaginous, resulting in the characteristic "goo" or slime when the seed pods are cooked; the mucilage contains a usable form of soluble fiber. While many people enjoy okra cooked this way, others prefer to minimise sliminess; keeping the pods intact and cooking quickly help to achieve this. To avoid sliminess, okra pods are often briefly stir-fried, or cooked with acidic ingredients such as citrus, tomatoes, or vinegar. A few drops of lemon juice will usually suffice. Alternatively the pods can be sliced thinly and cooked for a long time, so that the mucilage dissolves, as in gumbo. The cooked leaves can also be used as a powerful soup thickener. The immature pods may also be pickled.
In Syria, Egypt, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Yemen,and other parts of the eastern Mediterranean, including Cyprus and Israel, okra is widely used in a thick stew made with vegetables and meat. It is one of the most popular vegetables among West Asians, North Indians and Pakistanis alike. In most of West Asia, okra is known as bamia or bamya. West Asian cuisine usually uses young okra pods and they are usually cooked whole. In India, the harvesting is done at a later stage, when the pods and seeds are larger.
It is popular in Indian and Pakistan, where chopped pieces are stir fried with spices, pickled, salted or added to gravy-based preparations like Bhindi Ghosht or sambar. In western parts of India (Gujarat, Maharashtra), okra is often stir-fried with some sugar. Okra is also used in Kadhi.
In Caribbean islands, okra is eaten as soup, often with fish. In Haiti it is cooked with rice and maize, and also used as a sauce for meat. It became a popular vegetable in Japanese cuisine toward the end of the 20th century, served with soy sauce andkatsuobushi, or as tempura.
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 and in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Breaded, deep fried okra is eaten in the southern United States. Okra is also an ingredient expected in callaloo, a Caribbean dish and the national dish of Trinidad and Tobago. Okra is also eaten in Nigeria, wheredraw soup is a popular dish, often eaten with garri or cassava. In Vietnam, okra is the important ingredient in the dish canh chua. Okra slices can also be added to ratatouille, combining very well with the other ingredients of this French popular dish.
Okra leaves may be cooked in a similar way to the greens of beets or dandelions. The leaves are also eaten raw in salads.Okra seeds may be roasted and ground to form a caffeinate-free substitute for coffee.When importation of coffee was disrupted by the American Civil War in 1861, the Austin State Gazette noted, "An acre of okra will produce seed enough to furnish a plantation of fifty negroes with coffee in every way equal to that imported from Rio."
Okra oil is a pressed seed oil, extracted from the seeds of the okra. The greenish-yellow edible oil has a pleasant taste and odor, and is high in unsaturated fats such as oleic acid and linoleic acid. The oil content of the seed can be 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.Common Okra seed is reported to contain only 15% oil