Mulukhiya is made from the leaves of jute and corchorus plants that grow in east and north Africa. In Egypt, Mulukhiya is prepared by chopping the leaves with garlic and coriander and cooking it in an animal stock such as chicken, beef or rabbit, and served with Egyptian bread or rice.
How To Make Mulukhiya
1 packet of frozen or fresh finely chopped mulukhiya leaves (Frozen mulukhiya is almost always sold finely chopped, but double check the package to make sure)
1 whole organic or pastured chicken (As mentioned above, you can also use duck, rabbit or wild shrimp to make mulukhiya – the duck’s broth is an exceptional one. The others I haven’t made yet.)
Several cups of filtered water to cover the chicken while cooking on the stove
1 yellow onion, cut in fourths
15 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon of organic grass-fed ghee or pastured butter
1 tablespoon ground organic coriander
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2-3 bay leaves, broken into pieces
4-5 cardamom pods, crushed to release flavor
Himalayan or other unrefined salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Make the garlic-coriander mixture: Using a mortar and pestle or a handheld electric grinder, crush 15 cloves of garlic. In a separate pot, melt 1 tablespoon of butter or ghee and add the crushed garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of ground coriander and a few drops of lemon juice to the garlic. Sauté the mixture for 2 minutes or until a little browned.
Mix it all together: Add 8-10 cups of the freshly made chicken broth to the garlic-coriander mixture. Simmer for 2 minutes. Try to break the mulukhiya (if frozen) into a few pieces first, then add them to the soup, stirring continuously to break up the frozen pieces. Boil only for 3-5 minutes until the mulukhiya is well mixed and then boil for a few additional seconds. Make sure not to overcook or keep boiling as mulukhiya needs to be suspended (overcooking makes the leaves fall to the bottom).
Eat the stew: Many people add rice to the mulukhiya, and some add crushed pieces of toasted pita bread. Others, like my grandma, would add the roasted chicken or duck, cut up into pieces into the mulukhiya. Personally, I now do neither. If I have rice, I only add a spoonful of organic sprouted rice. And I enjoy the roasted bird or meat on the side, to better savor the flavors individually. But of course, there is no hard rule about how to eat mulukhyia – it is a matter of preference and tradition! In any case, the only rule is to savor every bite and to eat it while hot, because the flavor of mulukhiya is unparalleled.
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Interestingly, different cities in Egypt prepare it in different ways, for example fish or shrimp are used as bases for the broth in coastal cities such as Alexandria and Port Said. During the late Tenth century, the dish was banned by the Fatimid Caliph Al Hakim Bi-Amr Allah, while the ban was lifted, religious sects such as the Druze still refuse to eat the dish in respect for the late Caliph.