AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Jute Leaves: Moloukia DATE: 2/20/2009 10:43:00 AM ----- BODY:
Don't forget about the giveaway of Even’ Star Organic Farm Seeds. These heirloom seeds are of the highest quality, and are cultivated to yield the most flavorful, hardiest plants. All you need to do is leave a comment on my blog between now and Friday, February 27th at 5pm EST.

My college apartment was down the street from a Lebanese deli. Instead of eating in the campus cafeteria, I’d head over to the deli to satiate my cravings for falafel and hummus. Having spent much of my youth eating in the Israeli and Arab restaurants of Jerusalem, this was my comfort food. After many visits, I became friendly with the owner and he steered me towards the daily specials – each day his wife would make a traditional, home-style dish for lunch. Sometimes it was a lamb dish scented with cinnamon, others it was fish, but my favorite was “Molokhia” -- chicken simmered with a leafy green vegetable served over rice-noodle pilaf and topped with toasted pita.

I never saw this dish in another restaurant again, so began a quest to recreate it. Every time I met a Lebanese, I would interrogate him to figure out what this dish really was and find out how to make it. Finally, I was able to find a good recipe and a source for the distinctive “Moloukhia” leaves.

Moloukhia are the leaves from a variety of the jute plant. They have a unique texture that some describe as a cross between okra and spinach. Other descriptions include, “slippery” and “gelatinous.” The nutritious leaves thicken the chicken broth and give a rich flavor to the stew. A heavy dose of lemon juice at the end balances the creaminess. It’s an unusual flavor, but highly addictive.

This dish originates from Egypt, but has spread across the Middle East. Spellings can vary, including moloukhi, molokhya and moolkhia, as can its botanical name: jew's mallow, nalta jute, tussa jute, corchorus olitorius. Fresh molokhi is not available in the U.S. but can be purchased dried or frozen in most Arab Markets.

To coax out the best flavor from the stew, it needs at least 30 minutes of simmering. Unfortunately, the long simmer does not bode well for a bright green dish. When prepared with rabbit, it’s fit for a Pharaoh.
1 lb. chicken or rabbit meat
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 cups chicken broth or water
4 tbs. butter
3 cups dried moloukhia leaves or 10 oz. frozen
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs. coriander

Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet or pot, combine chicken, onion and broth. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce to simmer. Let simmer while preparing the next steps.

In a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Saute crushed garlic with coriander for 2-3 minutes until garlic starts to soften and the coriander becomes aromatic. Take some of the liquid from the chicken to deglaze this pan and add to above.

If using dried leaves, melt remaining butter over medium heat. Stir leaves for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and crush. Add leaves to the simmering pot. Continue simmering for 30 minutes. Total cooking time should be about 45 minutes. If using frozen leaves, simply add to the chicken pot with remaining butter. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes.

Just before serving, stir in lemon juice. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over rice pilaf, or rice mixed with pilaf noodles

I'm submitting this recipe to the Weekend Herb Blogging Event. Started by Kayln's Kitchen, it is now organized by Haalo of Cook (Almost Anything) at Least Once. This week's host is the ever-charming Susan from The Well-Seasoned Cook.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Grace DATE:2/20/2009 12:40:00 PM oh MAN--if i were located anywhere near a lebanese deli, i would be there every day, i kid you not. thanks for the recipe! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Heather DATE:2/20/2009 05:36:00 PM that sounds delicious! i love lebanese food :) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Susan DATE:2/21/2009 08:20:00 AM OMG! Jute...the things one does not know...: D

Thank you, Julia, for a most intriguing WHB recipe! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Psychgrad DATE:2/21/2009 01:39:00 PM Sounds very interesting. I'm having a hard time imagining a cross between okra and spinach that is slippery and gelatinous. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Sylvie DATE:2/22/2009 11:38:00 AM oooh... what fun, a new vegetable to try - something I am not familiar with!

A quick search on Wikipedia yieded:
Mulukhiyah or Malukhiyah (Arabic: ملوخية) is the Arabic name for Mallow-Leaves which are the leaves from the plant Corchorus, a herb in the larger family of the mint often termed jute. The green vegetable is a well known part of the Middle-Eastern, mainly Egyptian cuisine and also known by some Far East oriental dishes as well such as Japan, it is a rather bitter herb with a natural thickening agent. It is the main ingredient of a popular Egyptian dish by the same name. Malukhiyah is prepared in a few ways: the original is the Egyptian style in which the mallow leaves are very finely chopped, with ingredients such as garlic and coriander added giving it a characteristic aromatic and tasty feature, or the Syrian and Jordanian style in which the mallow leaves are left whole. Malukhiyah Stew is served with rice, but is mostly enjoyed with chicken (Chicken and Mallow-Leaves Stew is a well known dish in Syria) or with rabbit a popular Jordanian dish."

Ah... yes, mallow or mallow-like would be indeed gelatinous. Thank you Julia for writing about this vegetable. Now, I need to find myself some seeds. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:2/23/2009 06:37:00 AM Grace, me too! We'd probably be seeing a lot of each other ;)

Heather, I'm not sure why there aren't more Lebanese restaurants around...

Susan, Thanks! I look forward to learning about other new ingredients. Looking forward to the round up.

PG - You know the textural qualities of okra that make it less than universally loved? Same thing. Only in a leafy green.

Sylvie, You know it didn't even occur to me to look for leaves. Given the climate of New England, as compared to Egypt, I imagine I would not be able to grow it... but I bet you could! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Rose's Lime DATE:2/23/2009 09:46:00 AM I had this once as the daily special at Aceituna in Kendall Square. It was advertised as "Chicken with Mallo Leaves."

The restaurant advertises itself as "mediterranean" but the folks that own it are Egyptian.

At the time, I asked them where you get Mallo leaves. They said, Watertown. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger marilu utrera DATE:4/10/2009 01:05:00 PM i am trying to find these moloukia leaves but havent got a clue... do you know of any place near boston that might have it? ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:4/10/2009 02:06:00 PM Hi Marilu,

Thanks for visiting my blog. And I'm thrilled that you'll be making moulkhia. It's a wonderful dish that's truly under-appreciated by many Americans.

I bought the frozen leaves at Al Hoda Market on Prospect Ave. in Cambridge. It's quite close to Inman Square. In the South End, the Syrian Grocer (on Shawmut) sells both the dried and frozen leaves. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anonymous DATE:7/13/2009 09:29:00 AM More ideas for finding the leaves: I found them in my (fairly large) Chinese grocery, in one of the frozen aisles.

Thank you for the recipe... I already have rabbit in the freezer!

m ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anonymous DATE:1/19/2010 09:01:00 AM Well, Rose's Lime Egypt is on the Mediterranean, so, it does qualify to be called Mediterrenean ----- --------