Mouloukhiya stew or soup, is very much appreciated by Middle Easterners, especially by Egyptians who prefer it soup-style. Mouloukhiya is best cooked when fresh and in season, but it is also dried to be used later on in the year. In North America it can be purchased from Middle Eastern specialty shops, either dried or frozen. Its leaves are mint-like, but are considerably larger and completely different in taste.
Mouloukhiya may be cooked with either chicken, lamb, goat or beef. If cooked with other than the chicken, the cubes of meat have to be simmered and tenderized beforehand. Mouloukhiya stew may also be prepared vegetarian style. The meat version is served on top of rice; the meatless version is scooped up with pieces of bread.
The following recipe uses dried mouloukhiya, which needs to be covered in boiling water and left to tenderize for several hours (or overnight) before cooking. If you are using frozen or fresh leaves then of course the soaking step is omitted.
1 L (4 cups) dried mouloukhiya leaves (good quality)
125 mL (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
1 whole chicken, cut up into serving pieces
2 heads of garlic, peeled – cut large cloves into smaller pieces
60 mL (4 tbsp) vegetable oil
7 mL (1 1/2 tsp) salt
3 mL (1/2 tsp) black pepper
Pinch cinnamon (optional)
5 mL (1 tsp) coriander seeds, coarsely crushed with mortar and pestle
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 mL (1/2 tsp) salt
30-40 mL (2-3 tbsp) vegetable oil
Check for foreign matter in between the mouloukhiya leaves, and snap off wiry stems. Place mouloukhiya in a pot and generously cover with boiling water. Cover and put aside to tenderize for at least 4 hours or overnight. To get rid of sediment if present in bottom of pot, scoop up the mouloukhiya leaves and place in a colander. Wash under running water and drain again.
Pour oil in a deep (to avoid splatter) cooking pot and place over medium high heat. Add the chicken and brown all over. Cover chicken with water and bring to the boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer until tender. Scoop up the chicken, place on a platter (chicken pieces may be left as is or if you prefer, remove and discard the bones,) and put aside.
Sautee two thirds of the garlic in oil in a cooking pot until slightly golden. Add mouloukhiya, salt, pepper, cinnamon (optional), and crushed coriander seeds, and sautee, turning over two or three times. Cover generously with chicken stock. Bring to the boil. Lower heat and simmer covered, for 30-45 minutes or until mouloukhiya leaves are soft and tender. Add chicken pieces and more stock if needed.
In a mortar and pestle, crush remaining garlic with salt until creamy. Fry garlic in oil until golden brown. Add the juice of one and a half lemons to the garlic and bring to the boil. Pour over mouloukhiya and stir. Adjust seasoning to taste. Delicious!
Serve over rice. Eat piping hot. More lemon juice may be squeezed over individual servings.
Makes 5 – 6 servings
Note 1: Egyptians accompany Mouloukhiya with a sauce called Dam’a. It is made of finely diced onion and garlic, vinegar and or lemon juice. Tomato juice may also be a component of the sauce.
Note 2: To make it into a soup, chop the mouloukhiya leaves until fine and add more stock.