Molokhia, Mulukhia, Mlukhieh, Mulaheyah, Mloukhieh, Egyptian Spinach, Salad Mallow, Jews Mallow or Jerusalem Mellow is names given to this majestic plant that is very popular throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The scientific name for Mulukhia is “Corchorus Olitorius”.
Some say that the name Molokhia is derived from the Arabic word Mulukia meaning “Royal” and list it as a favorite food of the Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt. Nowadays, it is a favored dish among young and old in all Arab countries and is listed as a traditional dish in the culinary cuisine of more than one country.
From my childhood I remember this popular story about Molokhia: “an immigrant was travelling to the U.S. and, of course, he was carrying dried Molokhia with him. He was stopped by immigration as they thought he was carrying weed. As he couldn’t explain what these dried leaves were, they took a sample to test. The result: a green weed with zero nutritional value, fit for animal consumption only.” Upon hearing the story everyone would burst into laughter and say “fit for animal consumption or not, it remains one of the best meals ever” Of course the nutritional value thing is just a myth to relay the love people have for this flavorful and delicious Middle Eastern dish. They love it so much that they are willing to go through the hassle of carrying it across boarders and getting caught even if it is not fit for animal consumption! But nothing could be further from the truth for according to the Permaculture Research Institute of the USA, Molokhia is loaded with good stuff and they consider it a treasure house of healthy food elements.
Molokhia is used fresh, frozen and dried. During the spring and summer months we buy it fresh from the grocery stores. To clean it, we remove and discard the stems and use the leaves for cooking. Usually we clean large quantities then freeze or dry them for use during autumn and winter. There are several Mulukhia dishs: Mulukhia with chicken popular across the Levant, Mulukhia with meat, vegetarian Mulukhia, and Mulukhia with Rabbits (a traditional Egyptian dish). Today’s recipe is on how to prepare Mulukhia with chicken.
Outside our region you can purchase Molokhia (Jews Mallow) from your local ethnic or Middle Eastern market. Molokia is usually available in frozen or dried form. I am also told that in some places you can purchase the seeds to grow in your home garden as it is an extremely easy plant to grow Jews Mallow.
Molokhia with Chicken Recipe
Preparation time: 10 min Cook time: 50 min
For preparing the chicken:1 whole chicken (about 1.2 kg)
1 small cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole black pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion cut in half
1 whole carrot skin removed
1 teaspoon salt
For dish:1/3 cup oil
1 large onion, finely diced
12 large cloves garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves (or 2 tablespoons dried coriander)
700 grams fresh or frozen molokhia leaves
1 whole chicken, cooked
10 cups chicken broth
2 large tomatoes (200 grams each), grated
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
How to make Molokia:
- Wash the molokhia well by soaking it for 10 minutes in a mixture of water and salad disinfection tablet. Rinse well. Spread on large kitchen towel to dry.
- Remove all the molokhia stems and discard them; you only need the leaves. If you are using frozen molokhia make sure that there are no stems. If you do notice that the package includes stems with the leaves, cut them off with the kitchen scissors.
- Cut chicken from the middle and wash well. After that, I like to scrub the chicken with 1/2 a lemon, leave it for a few minutes then rinse.
- Place all the ingredients for preparing the chicken in a pan, add water to cover (12-13 cups). Cook, covered, over medium heat until chicken is tender. Remove the chicken from the water and leave on a tray to cool. While still warm (easier to handle), remove all the skin and bones. As for the chicken broth, pass it through a sieve. Keep the 10 cups you need for this dish and store remaining amount in the fridge for later use.
- Heat the oil, add the onions and garlic and sauté until onions are just about to start turning yellow. Add the coriander and molokhia leaves and toss for two minutes. Add the cooked chicken, chicken broth and salt, mix well. When sauce starts to boil reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
- After the dish cooks for 30 minutes add the grated tomatoes and fresh lemon juice and simmer, covered, for another 20 minutes.
Hope you enjoyed today’s easy recipe: Molokia or Mulukhia with Chicken; an ancient and popular Middle Eastern Cuisine main dish. Bon appetite.
Have you ever tried molokhia? How would you describe its taste?
اضغط الرابط لقراءة وصفة الملوخية بالدجاج باللغة العربية