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.
2 kg fresh mloukhieh leaves with 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.
1/2 kg of lamb shanks (optional - can be prepared with chicken only, or you can bring the flavour more by adding the lamb shanks)
2 medium onion sliced
1 bulb head of garlic - peeled (1/2 crushed, 1/2 whole)
1 large bunch fresh coriander washed, chopped and minced with half of the garlic.
3 tbls O.Oil for cooking
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 fresh lemons squeezed
6 cups water for boiling
salt, bay leaves and cinnamon stick for the stock.
Rice Pilaf: 2 cups of basmati rice, 1/3 cup of butter, toast the rice in butter and when it starts to stick add 2 cups of water for each cup of rice and couple bay leaves for a nice smell. Cook on medium till the rice is cooked. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
If you are using the two kinds of meat put them together in deep pot and brings to boil. Remove scum when surfaces. Add the sliced onions, salt and mixed spices. Cover and simmer for 1 hr. Remove chicken and debone, and leave it aside.
Heat oil in a pan and add the garlic, chillies if using, black pepper, ground coriander and 1/2 the fresh coriander. Stir-fry for 5 mins then add the leaves. Continue frying for a further 5 mins.
In another pot add 4 cups of the meat stock and the lamb shanks, add the mloukhieh leaves, the cilantro mix.
Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 – 25 minutes. Check the mloukhieh are cooked and adjust the seasoning. Add half of the chicken, and leave the rest to decorate the plates. Squeeze the lemon juice. And add it and stir. Continue cooking on low heat for 5 mins. Serve over rice, with toasted pita bread and chopped onion soaked in red wine vinegar. Decorate the plate with chicken pieces.
Recipe if using Dried Mloukhieh
200 Gms of dried Mloukhieh dehydrated in 2 cups of hot water for 30 minutes. Then drain and leave aside.
500 Gms bag of frozen spinach
The rest of the ingredients are the same. Cook your meat, and fry the cilantro and garlic with the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add 4 cups of stock and the meat to the pot add the spinach and the mloukhieh, the cilantro and continue the recipe as above.
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