After a few months of hiatus, the MENA Cooking Club is back with a bang! I am so glad that the challenge is back into its feet and hoping that it continues without any hitches in the future, InShaAllah… You can refer to my previous MENACC posts here…
This month, we were asked to explore Jordan. Originally known as “The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan”, this beautiful country shares its borders with Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Palestine and is blessed with the two seas – the Dead Sea and the Red Sea. The country is a haven for people who love to learn history. The changes in the kingdoms over the centuries has made the country rich in the historical sense. Jordan is considered to be one of the safest countries in the world and has a thriving tourism industry, which unfortunately due to the unrest of its neighbors is slowly taking a hit. Petra, Amman and the Dead Sea is definitely a few of the attractions that many of us would like to go and experience in our life time and that includes me.
We were given three choices as is usually given – Freekeh soup, Mlukia/ Molokhia and Jordanian coffee. When the email came in, I was really wondering how I would manage to cook up for the challenge, since my guests are only leaving tomorrow and it is not easy to cook up something alien that they wouldn’t eat. As I read through the challenge, my heart skipped a beat as I read “Mlukia”. I didn’t get it in the beginning but as I watched the video, I got really excited! Ask me why… I had a pack of frozen Molokhia in my freezer for a long time wanting to try it ever since I saw it on Fami’s space. Finally I cooked it up early last month, and I couldn’t believe my eyes that I am posting something from my drafts for this challenge! *happy dance* I am really happy I am not having to skip this challenge, Alhamdulillah… 🙂
Molokhiyah – it is spelled in a lot of ways! – is basically the leaves of jute plant. It is very commonly used in cuisines in the Arab and North African region. The leaves in itself are slightly bitter and when cooked, gives a very slimy appearance with a fish-like smell. It is usually made into soup or stew and served with plain white rice. Even though this dish is more popular in Egypt, it has its variations across many Arab countries including Jordan, and even Cyprus too! The preparation of this dish varies from family to family and on personal preferences. The simplest is cooking the leaves in chicken or beef stock, and you can make it as elaborate as possible!
As mentioned earlier, I have used frozen leaves, since I am not really familiar with selecting fresh ones and secondly, it makes my life easier! 😉 I used this recipe as a guide and worked my stew around it. I must say it was really flavorful, much more than I had expected it to be. I was really not sure how much the folks would like the green soup, but HD and B loved it so much, that they asked me to make this as regularly as possible. InShaAllah, I am already planning to include this into our menu for Ramadan and have stocked up a couple of frozen packs when I got in at a special offer! 😉
End note: Do not skip or skimp on the garlic tempering. I tasted the stew without it, and later after the tempering was added, and I must say it pushes up this humble dish thousand notches over! No, I am not kidding… 🙂
Molokhia/ Mlukia ~ Chicken Jute Leave Stew
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion minced
- 350 gm boneless chicken chopped into small peices
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp clove powder
- 1 tsp paprika powder
- 1 tsp black pepper powder
- 1/2 tsp white pepper powder
- Salt to taste
- 4 cups water
- 2 chicken stock cubes
- 400 gm pack frozen molokhia jute leaves
- FOR TEMPERING:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- Heat olive oil. Fry the onions till wilted and slightly browned.
- Add in the chicken and stir fry for a few minutes or till it starts turning white.
- Sprinkle in all the powders and toss them well. Let it cook for five minutes.
- Add in the water and stock cubes and bring the water to a boil.
- Add in the salt at this stage and continue to simmer till the chicken is almost done.
- Drop in the frozen molokhia into the water and cook on high flame till the molokhia floats in the soup.
- Switch off and adjust seasoning.
- In a small saucepan, heat oil and fry the garlic till browned - do not burn! Turn it into the soup and close the lid for it to seep in.
- Have as is or topped over rice.