The word okra is of African origin and means “lady’s fingers” in Igbo, a language spoken in what is now known as Nigeria. Okra is grown throughout the tropical and warm temperate regions of the world for its fibrous pods full of round, white seeds, which, when picked young, are eaten as a vegetable. It is also one of the most popular vegetables in late 20th century Japanese cuisine. In Israel, Jordan, Greece and other parts of the eastern Mediterranean, okra, known in Arabic as bamia, is widely used in a thick stew made with vegetables and meat. It is also common in Indian cooking where it is either sauteed or added to gravy based preparations. Okra is often steamed until tender, either whole or sliced about 1 cm thick or simply stir-fried. Okra is sometimes used as the thickening agent in gumbo; when cooked, it has the same mucilaginous properties as nopales (the pads of the prickly pear cactus). It is also pickled.