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from: Northern Africa | cooking method: boiling-simmering

Molokhia (Egyptian Greens Soup)

Molokhia (Melokiyah, etc.) is a traditional dish in Egypt and Sudan -- some people believe it originated among Egyptians during the time of the Pharaohs. Others believe that it was first prepared by ancient Jews. Molokhia is a mucilaginous, nutritious soup made from a type of greens, known as molokhia or Jew's mallow (also called Nalta jute, Tussa jute, Corchorus olitorius), which is found throughout Egypt, the Levant, and similar climes elsewhere. Dried or frozen molokhia greens may be obtained from Middle Eastern or Asian grocery stores worldwide.

bazaar, egypt

What you need

What you do

Molokhia is prized for its mucilaginous quality, a quality which spinach lacks. If using spinach, the addition of a few tender okra pods, very finely chopped, will serve to thicken the soup.

If using dried molokhia, rub the leaves between your hand to crumble them into small pieces, moisten these with a few spoonfuls of water then proceed with the recipe. Frozen Mulukhiya is sold already cleaned and chopped, ready to use.

The fried garlic and coriander mixture is known as ta'lya (ta'leya, ta'liya) and is used in many Egyptian dishes. Some cooks leave out the salt; others add the onion and/or the tomato paste to the ta'lya. The ta'lya can also be added to the molokhia earlier.

A richer Molokhia Chicken soup can be obtained by boiling a pound of cut-up chicken meat in the chicken stock before adding the molokhia leaves. Some cooks add a bit of cardamom or cinnamon.

If you like molokhia, consider yourself lucky that you didn't live in Egypt a thousand years ago: Consumption of molokhia was banned (along with a great many other things) during the reign of the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim (c.1000 AD).

How's that spelled?

It seems as if Egypt's Molokhia and Senegal's Ceebu Jën are competing to see which can be spelled the most ways. Molokhia and Melokiyah are the most common, but the word is also spelled Meloukhia, Melokiyah, Milookhia, Milookhiyya, M'Loukhia, Molohia, Molokhiya, Molokhiyya, Molukhyia, Mulukhia, Mulukhiya, Mulukhiyah . . . .

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