plant of the mallow
family that is the basis of one of Egypt's most traditional dishes. There have even been depictions of preparation of mallow leaves on some ancient Egyptian graves
. One (probably apocryphal) story holds that the "molokhia" derives from the arabic word for kind (malik), since it is considered a food for royalty -- especially given its labour-intensive preparation.
Traditionally, Molokhia is prepared as follows:
- Bundles of Molokhia are bought at markets. An average bunch might have 50 or 60 stalks, each about three feet high.
- The leaves are hand-picked off the molokhia stalks.
- The molokhia is thoroughly washed to get rid of bugs and dirt.
- The molokhia is put on a block of wood and a special type of knife -- think a sickle with handles at both ends -- is used to mince it. Basically, this sickle is moved in a kind of walking manoeuvre up and down the leaves, cutting them into smaller and smaller pieces, until the biggest piece is a few millimetres square. Of course, today, most people put it in a blender.
- This is fried with some garlic and then added to some broth, and left to stew.
- After about an hour you have a very thick, very black (ok, greenish-black) soup. It's a little slimy (when you serve it, you get little "stretches" of molokhia, kinda like cheese), but it tastes wonderful.
- It is usually served with rice and your meat of choice -- typically, beef, chicken, duck or rabbit all mixed in to it. For added effect, some people like putting in some toasted lebanese bread that's been crumbled.
It's very delicious, but is a bit of an acquired taste. It causes some severe digestive problems for some people.