Molokhia (Egyptian-style)

Molokhia with Chicken

Molokhia ( ملوخية), also known as Jute, or Jews Mallow is the name of both a plant and a dish. It has medium sized saw-toothed leaves that come to a point at the tip and have small tendrils at the base of each leaf. Nutritionally, it has three times the calcium and phospherous as Kale, and four times the amount of riboflavin. It also provides 70% of the RDA value for Vitamin C, 25% of the RDA of Vitamin A amongst a host of other minerals and vitamins. Put simply, it’s an extremely nutrient dense vegetable that’s widely eaten throughout the Middle East and Asia.

So why hasn’t it enjoyed the same kind of popularity in the US? My guess is that it has to do with the mouthfeel. Like other members of the mallow family, including Okra and Marsh Mallow, the plant has a mucilaginous texture that’s intensified by bruising and lightly cooking the leaves. While it’s a cherished consistency in many cultures, I can see how it might be a turn-off if you associate the texture with the unpleasantness that comes with a cold.

Molokhia

Molokhia the dish is made throughout much of Africa and the Middle East, but the origins of the dish are said to be in ancient Egypt, where it’s still popular to this day. In the Egyptian preparation, the Molokhia leaves are stripped from the stems, then minced using a mezzaluna. It’s cooked with ground coriander, garlic and stock and is often served with chicken (or more traditionally rabbit). In Levantine countries such as Syria and Lebanon, Molokhia is made with the whole leaves and is served with a vinegar and onion sauce along with toasted pita squares.

While I’ve used Molokhia for years in Japanese cuisine, I first encountered the eponymous dish while cooking in a kitchen in the Middle East where the chefs were Egyptian, Syrian and Lebanese. I was struck by how utterly simple it was and yet so comforting. Savory, and redolent of garlic and coriander, Molokhia has a verdant flavor made rich with the viscous mucilage from the leaves. In many ways, it reminded me of a marvelous green gumbo I once had at a farmers market in New Orleans.

Molokhia Leaves

The fresh leaves can be hard to find in the US, but I’ve seen them in Asian grocery stores. It goes by the name bai po in Thailand, nalta sag in India, saluyot in the Philippines, and moroheiya in Japan. You should also be able to find it frozen in any Middle Eastern grocery store.

For vegetarians, you can make this without chicken. Just substitute some vegetable stock for the chicken stock and serve it with roasted veggies such as bell peppers, zucchini and eggplant.

Equipment you'll need:

Molokhia (Egyptian-style)
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This popular Egyptian soup made with minced Jute leaves is nutritious and delicious over rice and chicken.
Molokhia (Egyptian-style)
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
This popular Egyptian soup made with minced Jute leaves is nutritious and delicious over rice and chicken.
Prep Time
30minutes
Cook Time
45minutes
Prep Time
30minutes
Cook Time
45minutes
Ingredients
  • 1/2 large chicken leg - bone-in skin-on (about 750 grams)
  • 1 medium onion quartered
  • 12 green cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 500 grams fresh molokhia
  • 2 cups short-grain Egyptian rice
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Units:
Instructions
  1. Add the chicken, onions, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf salt and water to a stock pot that's just large enough to hold the chicken. The chicken should be completely submerged. Cover and bring to a boil, then remove the lid and skim off any scum that accumulates on the surface. Keep skimming until there's no more foam coming up. Turn the heat down to a simmer, and cook the chicken for 20 minutes.
  2. To make the Taqliya, combine the garlic, coriander and olive oil and salt and mash together into a paste.
  3. Prepare the molokhia, by removing the leaves from the stems, and then washing thoroughly to remove the grit that accumulates on the leaves. Use a mezzaluna or chef's knife to mince the leaves. You can also put the leaves in a food processor and pulse.
  4. When the chicken is done, transfer it to a bowl using tongs and cover the chicken with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.
  5. Thoroughly wash the rice and cook it according to the direction on the package, but substitute the chicken stock for the water.
  6. When the rice 15 minutes away from being done, preheat the oven to 230 C (450 degrees F) spread about 1/3 of the Taqliya on the chicken skin, sprinkle with salt, and then place the chicken on a roasting pan. Bake the chicken for 15 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown.
  7. Add half the remaining Taqliya to a pot. Fry the mixture until fragrant and browned. Add the 1 1/2 cups of reserved chicken stock along with the minced molokhia. Gently simmer, stirring occasionally until the molokhia is cooked (about 10-15 minutes). If you like your molokhia thinner, add more chicken stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Add the remaining Taqliya to a small frying pan along with 2 tablespoons of ghee. Fry until the garlic has browned.
  9. Add the lemon juice to the molokhia and stir it in.
  10. To serve, put the rice in a large platter. Section the chicken into pieces and place them on top of the rice. Serve the Molokhia in a separate bowl to pour on the rice and chicken.
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  • Sig Au

    My mum’s friend used to live in Egypt and I remember having this as a child, I looked for recipes previously but never had much success! Thank you :) I will have to hunt for some fresh molokhia and try and make this.

  • Jessen

    I grew up eating Molokhia, sometimes made with lamb instead of chicken. We use Barahat spice and usually add lemon juice- lots of lemon! I like you’re idea on plating it.

  • Kay

    Moroheiya is very common in Japan. My mom used to make soup with it or just boil and serve with katsuobushi ( bonito flake) and soysause. I was so happy when I found moroheiya at the local farmers market in CA but my American family was not excited about the dish…

    • Lebanese

      i live in CA and never saw it at farmers market.. Do they call it “Moroheiya” ? I buy it frozen from the middle eastern stores.. but I only find it minced, I prefer to cook the fresh one and not so thinly minced..

      • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

        Hi Lebanese, personally I prefer the Levantine style of molokhia as well without the leaves being chopped. If you live near LA or San Jose CA, you should be able to find it fresh sold as “moroheiya” at Japanese grocery stores such as Mitsuwa.

  • LeadBelly

    I ate this for the 1st with an Egyptian friend in the Middle East. She insisted. I was not impressed although I am considered an adventurous eater. It was as you mentioned the mouth feel—slimy and the look–gooey with a non-descript bland taste not worth the trouble. Therefore It will probably not appear on my dinner table even with all its high nutritional value. Nor will Nopal –Prickly Pear Cactus–same– same but give me okra–yum—yum!

  • April Ibrahim

    I eat this for the first time in Egypt with my husband on our honeymoon this pass November. I loved it. I’m from the states but my hubby is from Egypt and it was so Delicious.

  • April Ibrahim

    I eat this for the first time in Egypt with my husband on our honeymoon
    this pass November. I loved it. I’m from the states but my hubby is from
    Egypt and it was so Delicious. I’ll have to try this recipe for my hubby. I hope it will be as good as his was. =)

  • BlissBunny

    Hello there! I made this dish according to the recipe posted here. Molokhia is sold at our farmers market, and we are very curious to try new greens and vegetables. This worked out very well for us! Thank you for a great recipe.

  • Pingback: Ancient Recipes You Must Try Now | For Women

  • costas18

    The Royal Dish of the Middle East. Bil hana ouel shefa…

  • Foodie

    I grew up eating it one of my favorite foods! I will have to go to an Asian market to find some fresh leaves.

  • pali

    you can add a cut up tomato it will change consistency of Molokhai so it will not be slimy. it turns more like a soup. Palestinian way

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Pali, thanks for the idea, I’ve never tried it with tomato, but I’ve been adding lemon lately to cut the viscosity, it must be the acidity that does it.

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