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|Alternative names||'mloukhiya, molokhia, molohiya, mulukhiyya, malukhiyah, or moroheiya|
|Place of origin||Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria|
|Region or state||Middle East|
|Main ingredients||Okra leaves, beef or chicken stock|
|Cookbook: Mulukhiyah Media: Mulukhiyah|
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||142 kJ (34 kcal)|
|Vitamin A equiv.||
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Mulukhiyah, mloukhiya, molokhia, molohiya, mulukhiyya, malukhiyah, or moroheiya (Arabic: ملوخية) is the leaves of Corchorus olitorius commonly known as Nalta jute and tossa jute. It is used as a vegetable. It is popular in Middle East, East African and North African countries. Mulukhiyyah is rather bitter, and when boiled, the resulting liquid is a thick, highly mucilaginous broth; it is often described as "slimy", rather like cooked okra. Mulukhiyyah is generally eaten cooked, not raw, and is most frequently turned into a kind of soup or stew, typically bearing the same name as the vegetable in the local language. Traditionally mulukhiyyah is cooked with chicken or at least chicken stock for flavor and is served with white rice, accompanied with lemon or lime.
As used in Egyptian cuisine, molokheyyah, (Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [moloˈxejjæ]) is prepared by removing the central spine from the leaves, and then chopping the leaves finely with garlic and coriander. The dish generally includes some sort of meat; in Egypt this is usually chicken or rabbit or lamb are preferred when available, particularly in Cairo. Cooks in Alexandria often opt to use shrimp in the soup, while Port Said is famous for using fish. The resulting soup is then served over rice. It is also often served with a tomato, onion, and vinegar-based topping.
The Syrian/Lebanese version of this dish is different in texture and preparation. The mulukhiya leaves are picked off the stem, often communally with the women sitting with vast amounts of tall stemmed branches and picking it, placing the leaves on a large sheet (cloth material)left to completely dry for later use.
The leaves can be later packed dry, some southern Lebanese traditions often freeze the packaged leaves for the season and can be used throughout the year.
The leaves are then fried with coriander, garlic and often RED/GREEN chili peppers or capsicum, accompanied often with some sort of cucumber pickles. This cooking process prevents them from becoming slimy. It is then boiled with meat, such as large boneless chicken chunks or beef and lamb (with bone). Served on white rice with diced onion and brown vinegar and toasted Arabic bread.
The Standard Molokhia dish in the Levant is prepared by cooking a meat of some sort in a separate pot by boiling. Later onions, and garlic cooked to a simmer, then adding water and chicken stock cubes (well known brand is Maggi Cubes) as a broth. After boiling, the cooked chicken or meat and Molokhia leaves are added and further cooked another 15 minutes. Palestinians will serve Molokhia on a bed of rice topped with vermicelli noodles, and lemon juice and flat bread on the side.
A whole chicken is cut open, the intestines removed, and the innards stuffed with herbs, spices and raw rice then sewn shut with thick thread. The chicken is then boiled to create the broth for the Molokhia soup which, after preparation, is served as five separate components: The Molokhia soup, Arabic flat bread, the chicken (stuffed with flavored rice), additional plain rice and a small bowl with a mixture of lemon juice and sliced chilli. The soup is mixed with rice and lemon juice according to taste, while the chicken is eaten on a separate plate.
In Kenya, the dish is known as Mutere (Luragoli), Murere (Luhya),Apoth (Dholuo), Mrenda (Gikuyu, Embu, Meru), and several other native language names. It is a very popular vegetable dish among communities in the Western region (Vihiga, Kakamega, Busia, Trans Nzoia and Bungoma Counties) and in Nyanza region (Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Kisii, Migori and Nyamira Counties). Both regions are in the area around Lake Victoria. The jute leaves are separated from the stems, washed and then boiled in lightly salted water with ligadi (a raw form of soda (bicarbonate of soda), or munyu (traditional plant-based salt). The leaves are boiled with other leafy vegetables such as likuvi (Vigna unguiculata (cowpea) leaves) or mito (Chipilín) to reduce its sliminess and help soften the other vegetable leaves. In some cases, after boiling for about thirty minutes, the vegetables are stewed with tomatoes and onions in oil. (There are several general ways to prepare the mutere and more ways in which it is served). Spices such as curry, pepper, masala, or coriander are optional. Mutere is served with Ugali (a staple stiff cooked cereal meal) and can be accompanied with meat or chicken.
In Tunisia, the dish is generally prepared quite differently from the Egyptian method. The leaves, already separated from the stems are dried then ground to produce a very fine powder and stored in jars or other tightly closed containers. In Tunisian cooking, Mulukhya, or Mloukhiya, takes 5 to 7 hours to prepare, which is often done to halfway in the evening and completed in the morning. The powder is prepared with olive oil and some tomato paste into a sauce, not soup, and big chunks of chuck beef are often added halfway through cooking. The dark green sauce simmers on low heat and is left to thicken to the consistency of tomato sauce. The sauce is served in small deep plates with a piece of beef and eaten with preferably white hardy French or Italian bread. In certain regions where beef is not common, lamb is used but cooks for a much shorter time.
In Cyprus the dish is known as Molohiya. It is popular among the Turkish Cypriots. The Jute leaves are cultivated and grown in the spring months leading up to the summer wherein they are harvested and the leaves are separated from the stem and dried whole. Cooked in a tomato based broth with onions and garlic. Lamb on the bone or Chicken with bone may also be added. For optimal results lemon and potato are also used to help keep the consistency from becoming too mucilaginous or slimy. It is served with a nice broth consistency with sour dough bread.
North Levantine cuisine
North Levantine cuisine (Syria and Lebanon) differs from the remaining style in that the leaves are generally used whole, lending a different texture to the dish. Also, in northern Lebanon, a dish called "mloukhiye b zeit" is made using fresh leaves and shoots of the Nalta jute plant, cooked in olive oil, onions, garlic, tomatoes and chilli peppers, it is a popular summer side dish especially in Miniyeh-Danniyeh and Akkar districts.
West African cuisines
The leaf is a common food in many tropical West African countries. It is believed that the "drip tips" on the leaves serve to shed excess water from the leaf from the heavy rains in the tropics. In Sierra Leone it is called Kren-Kre (krain krain or crain crain), and is eaten in a palm oil sauce served with rice or cassava fufu (a traditional food made from cassava), or is steamed and mixed into rice just before eating a non-palm oil sauce.
The leaves are rich in betacarotene, iron, calcium, Vitamin C and more than 32 vitamins, minerals and trace elements. The plant has a potent antioxidant activity with a significant α-tocopherol equivalent Vitamin E.
The word for the plant is found in ancient Mediterranean languages such as Hebrew and Greek. Cognates of the word include Ancient Greek μαλάχη (malákhē) or μολόχη (molókhē), Modern Greek μολόχα (molóha), modern Arabic: ملوخية (mulukhiyah) and modern Hebrew: מלוחיה (malukhia).
In popular culture
In an episode of the murder mystery yarn Murder She Wrote entitled Death n' Denial, sleuth Jessica Fletcher is coerced into eating a full serving of mulukhiyah after posing as the victim's mother in order to suss out a clue. She is shocked by the spicy nature of the dish but it is explained that she must finish the entire course or it would be considered an insult. The dish serves as somewhat of joke throughout the episode and when Jessica is offered the dish again in the final scene she is quick to decline.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Molokheya.|
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