Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lebanese Mloukhieh - Jews Mallow Stew

Fresh Mloukhieh Leaves

Corchorus is a genus plant of about 40-100 species of flowering plants in the family Malvaceae, native to tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world. Different common names are used in different contexts, with jute applying to the fibre produced from the plant, and Mallow-Leaves Mulukhiyah (with many similar transliterations from Arabic: ملوخية‎) applied to the leaves used as a vegetable. The leaves of the Corchorus plant have been a staple Egyptian food since the time of the Pharaohs and it is from there that it gains its recognition and popularity. Varieties of Mallow-leaves stew with rice are a well known Middle-eastern cuisine.

Corchorus aestuans in Hyderabad, India

The plants are tall, usually annual herbs, reaching a height of 2-4 m, unbranched or with only a few side branches. The leaves are alternate, simple, lanceolate, 5-15 cm long, with an acuminate tip and a finely serrated or lobed margin. The flowers are small (2-3 cm diameter) and yellow, with five petals; the fruit is a many-seeded capsule. It thrives


The plants of Corchorus genus satisfy the world with great amounts of fiber needs. The fibers from these plants are the most widely cultivated vegetable fiber after cotton.

Young Mulukhiyah leaves are used as a green leaf vegetable; Corchorus olitorius is used mainly in southern Asia, Egypt and Cyprus, Corchorus capsularis in Japan and China. It has a mucilaginous (somewhat "slimy") texture, similar to okra, when cooked. The seeds are used as a flavoring, and a herbal tea is made from the dried leaves. Mulukhiyah is eaten widely in Egypt and some consider it the Egyptian national dish. It features in the cuisines of Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Tunisia. The basic recipe for Egyptian Mulukhiyah stew is to place 400 grams of finely chopped fresh or frozen mallow leaves in two cups of chicken stock and cook over a low fire. In the meantime prepare the Mulukhiyah spice mix by frying a tablespoon of ground dried coriander and three cloves of minced garlic in a tablespoon of oil in a separate pan until golden brown. Right before the Mulukhiyah and the stock start boiling, place the spice mix in the mixture and immediately remove from the fire. It is very important not to allow the Mulukhiyah to boil as it coagulates and becomes inedible. The resulting Mulukhiyah dish can be served with white rice and chicken, or as a soup.

In Nigerian cuisine, especially amongst the Yorubas, it is commonly used in a stew known as ewedu, a condiment to other starch-based foods such as amala.

In rural villages of the near east many families grow their own Mallow Leaves. It constitutes a significant constituent of their diet, thickening dishes and contributing vitamins, especially A. Here is a picture of the plant taken in Bi"lim:

The leaves are rich in betacarotene, iron, calcium, and Vitamin C. The plant has an antioxidant activity with a significant α-tocopherol equivalent Vitamin E.
Recipe for using fresh leaves Mloukhieh if available in your area.

1 1/2 kg fresh mloukhieh leaves without stems, picked the day before, then washed couple of times, then spread on kitchen towels over night to dry completely. The next day coarsely chop the mloukhieh, using a sharp knife.
1 kg of lamb shanks or shoulder of even stew meat (optional - can be prepared with chicken only, or you can bring the flavour more by adding the lamb shanks)
1 whole chicken skinned
2 medium onion sliced
1 bulb head of garlic - peeled (chopped with the fresh cilantro in mortar and pestle or pulsed in food processor)
1 large bunch fresh coriander washed, chopped and minced with garlic. plus 1/2 tsp. of whole dried coriander to boost the flavour and this is optional.
3 tbls Olive Oil for frying the garlic cilantro mix
1/2 tsp black pepper 1 tsp. sea salt
2-3  fresh lemons squeezed, use the peel for the stock.
4 cups of stock from the meat and chicken if you think it needs more add one cup water.
bay leaves and cinnamon stick .

Topping: toasted pita chips - cider vinegar and minced onion
Rice Pilaf: 2 cups of Basmati , Jasmine or Long Grain Rice washed and drained, 1/3 cup of butter, 1 tbsp. olive oil.  Toast the rice in butter and oil till it starts frying and keep stirring as it will stick in the bottom when you feel that its toasted for 7 minutes add 2 cups of water for each cup of rice and couple bay leaves for a nice smell and spoon of sea salt.  Cook on medium heat then lower when it starts boiling.  when the water evaporate shut the heart , and you see holes on the surface of the rice, shut the heat and leave it to rest for 10 minutes before serving.   Stir with a fork to fluff.

If you are using the two kinds of meat, fry them in a spoon of olive oil to brown or do like me; bake them in the oven for 30 minutes to brown, skin the chicken and put them in deep large pot cover them with 6 cups of water , the spices, lemon rind and brings to boil. Remove scum from surfaces.  Add the sliced onions, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 1 hr. Remove chicken and debone, return half to the pot and leave half to decorate the plates.  Add the Mloukhieh and cook for 30 minutes , make sure the stock is enough you need to have at least 4 cups of the stock , after adding the Mloukhieh the stew seemed thick you can add one cup or more of warm water , you should have enough liquid when serving its a stew after all.  (If you added the lemon peel and the cinnamon stick to the meat stock you can fish them out before adding the Mloukhieh).
In a large mortar and pestle add the garlic , fresh cilantro and dried cilantro and start mashing till it become a paste (check the picture) you can pulse them in a food processor .  Heat the 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a pan , add the chopped minced garlic and cilantro mix fry for 5 mins till you start smelling the aroma , make sure not to burn it , soon as they start taking a light color add it to the stew and mix well to combine, squeeze the fresh lemon juice and add it stir, adjust the seasoning and continue cooking on medium heat for extra 10 minutes. (you need to add the lemon juice after the Mloukhieh Stew is boiling not before other wise it will turn slimy)
How to Serve:  in a plate add some rice, add Mloukhieh Stew with meat and chicken pieces and some juice, toasted pita chips, and sprinkle couple tablespoons of cider vinegar and minced onion  , then add some chicken pieces.
Recipe if using Dried Mloukhieh
150 Gms of dried Mloukhieh dehydrated in hot water for 30 minutes. Then drain 
500 Gms bag of frozen spinach or one kilo fresh baby spinach or regular chopped.
same for the remaining ingredients .
and follow the same preparation after boiling the chicken and meat add the drained Mloukhieh and fresh spinach and cook for 30 minutes and when it starts boiling
add the minced garlic and cilantro mix after frying them to the stew and continue cooking.
follow the same steps.

No meal is complete without Dessert!!

White Genoise with Buttercream and Strawberry
You can cook it with Chicken & Meat

Many prepares the Mloukhieh with Chicken or Rabbit meat only

In the Winter Season, I prefer to use frozen spinach from Belgium .
During the Summer Season I buy it locally from my F. Market

1- Bag of dried mloukhieh
2-dehytrated in hot water
3- chopping and mincing the cilantro and garlic
4- fresh lemon juice

Note: During the Summer Season, I through some seeds in my garden and within couple of weeks the plants starts to shout... and within couple months you will taste your fresh Mloukheih out of the garden.... by the end of the season, the plants will starts seed on the top, and i collect them and use them from year to year.



Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

That looks delicious! I don't know if we have cochorus here though. I might ask around and see whether we do! :D

Mamatkamal said...

Salam Arlette,
Do you mind if I start eating dessert first and finish with rice?
Woowwwwwww this sounds soooooo delicious!
Thanks for all these lovely pictures. Gorgeous!

Mary said...

You are opening up a whole new world of cooking ingredients for me. I love it, your recipes and your spectacular photography. Have a wonderful weekend...Mary

touria said...

marhaba my dear
delicious photos
thanks for walima recipes
I will be with u this month

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A wonderful dish! I have never seen those leaves here... I have the powdered version from Egypt. A beautiful cake!



Cherine said...

I love mloukhiyye!! Yours looks perfect!!

tasteofbeirut said...

My mouth was watering looking at that mouloukhieh and then the cake! Wow! You are spoiling us!

Azure Islands Designs said...

Wow...looks and sounds delicious Arlette...I can almost smell it!!!


://: Heni ://: said...

everyone i know loves this dish but me i have never tried it or dared make it, but it looks great arlette: maybe i will be brave and try this out enchallah!

Julia @Mélanger said...

Oh my gosh, that dish looks amazing. Even after a LARGE lamb roast for dinner tonight, I am eagerly looking at those photographs. I'm loving the dessert. So pretty! :)

Saveurs et Gourmandises said...

J'avoue que je n'ai encore jamais mangé de mloukhiyeh.
J'espère pouvoir le faire un jour.
A bientôt.

Angie's Recipes said...

The rice dish with chicken and spinach looks truly delicious! And how I love the strawberry cake as a dessert!

kaouther said...

Hello Arlette,

We also prepare mloukhiya in North Africa ( mainly in Tunisia and east Algeria ) using the powder form of the vegie, the obtained result looks like a thick stew that is usually eaten with bread.

your dessert is gorgeous!