Molokhia is a scrumptious iconic soup made of deep green leaves packed with anti-oxidants and fiber. Molokhia has a richly flavored broth as a base, and is spiked with fried-in-ghee paste of dry coriander and heaps of garlic.
All images and content are owned by Chez Nermine® and are copyright protected. Please do not use my images and/or recipes without prior permission. If you would like to republish a recipe, please rewrite it in your own words and link back to the recipe page on my site. Original recipes and creations of this site are intended for personal and home use. Commercial replication or media consumption are only allowed with a written consent and agreement with Chez Nermine owner. Otherwise it is considered a violation of intellectual property. Thank you for respecting and appreciating the amount of time and effort that goes into creating free, unique recipes that shake up people's diet.
What is Molokhia?
Molokhia (also spelled as Mulukhiyah) is a traditional soup made of few ingredients: Broth, jute mallow leaves (fresh, dry or frozen), garlic, coriander, ghee (butter or oil), salt and pepper. That is it! The Molokhia leaves are deep green leaves that are scientifically known as Jute Mallow.
Molokhia is a super food and is considered as an excellent source of fiber, folic acid, and calcium. Jute Mallow leaves are a low maintenance plant, that you can grow in your backyard or in a pot in your balcony.
The Jute Mallow plant thrives on heat and fades when it is cold, so start planting the Molokhia after the last spring frost.
If you live in North America, it is forbidden by US customs to bring foreign seeds to the country. Therefore, You can order the Molokhia seeds on Amazon. I have to warn you though that Molokhia seeds grow like weed, so it is better to contain them in pots or in a raised bed.
The Molokhia true story
For years the most repeated narrative was that Molokhia dates back to ancient Egypt. Rumor has it that Molokhia means in hieroglyphic (ancient Egyptian language) royal, as Molokhia soup was served only to pharos, given its high nutritious value.
That narrative was challenged by the prominent food historian Mennat-Allah El Dorry, who confirmed, upon her research, that this dominant story has no historic evidence, and instead she suggested different historic context for this iconic dish.
Ms. Al Dory wrote: “The earliest certain record of it is from the eleventh century CE, when the Shiite Fatimid Caliph al-Ḥakim bi-Amrillah banned Egyptians from eating it likely because it was the favorite of Sunni Caliph Muawiya (7th century CE). Since then, it has appeared in a variety of sources.
However, a possible mention in a sixth-century CE Alexandrian text also exists: the Vegetable Zodiac, which features crops that are harvested during each month and specifies a certain crop called malachai, for the November/December slot.”, Ms. El Dorry adds.
How to cook no-fail Molokhia
Women in Egypt used to be judged upon their Molokhia soup, and that is not a joke! An epic Molokhia is vivid green, has significant body, unapologetically slimy, with a mind-blowing, garlicky scent, and an unmistakable hint of fried-in-ghee coriander. Opposing to the above, a Molokhia soup nightmare is:
- SAKTA (means failed): This happens when blended leaves separate from the broth.
- Lackluster: The color is dull and the consistency is too thin.
- The garlic is overcooked in the ghee turns bitter which damages the flavor of the entire soup.
- Too slimy: A thick slimy soup, of which the Molokhia leaves and broth ratio is totally off.
How to avoid this food nightmare?! Don’t sweat it, we get you covered.
In order to make an epic Molokhia, religiously follow the steps below, and you will be able to make a Molokhia that is worth of everyone’s oohs and ahhs.
Prep the Molokhia
This Egyptian soup could be made of fresh jute mallow leaves or frozen ones.
Usually, the frozen Molokhia comes already minced. It is available in the freezer aisle in local grocery stores and Middle Eastern ones across the globe. Preferably, defrost the frozen Molokhia in the fridge over night.
Traditionally, Egyptian home-cooks use mezzaluna to mince fresh Molokhia, which I find an unnecessarily time-consuming and physically-taxing task.
Instead, I combine the fresh Molokhia with a laddle of warm broth in the container of a blender or a food processor and I blend them together to the consistency I want. I like mine to be a smooth soup and not chunky.
Cooking the Molokhia leaves in broth
Add the defrosted, minced Molokhia to a hearty broth such as chicken, meat, or duck broth! My personal favorite broth is chicken or vegetable broth, as I appreciate the richness of the first and the clean flavor of the latter.
In case you are out of any homemade broth, feel free to use a low-sodium and good quality bouillon diluted in 2 1/2 cups of hot water. Use a wire whisk to incorporate the Molokhia minced leaves, and the broth until they are blended together. You let the Molokhia simmer on very low heat until you prepare the Tasha.
Make the Tasha
In a mortar and a pestle, combine coriander, garlic, salt, pepper and pound with the pestle until you reach a fine paste.
Add two tablespoons of ghee in a skillet over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the garlic-coriander paste and fry it in the hot ghee. Once the garlic-coriander paste becomes orange-hued and crispy, add the Tasha immediately to the simmering Molokhia.
The most interesting scene of this traditional recipe happens when the home-cook adds the tasha (AKA taklia), which is a paste of crushed garlic, coriander fried in hot ghee or butter.
The tradition goes that the home-cook has to sniffle loudly (teshhag in Arabic), when adding the wafting Tasha into the simmering soup. You may wonder about the sniffle? I don’t blame you! It is actually an ancient belief that this loud sniffle ensures the success of this specific dish. Weird, I know. Yet this practice was passed down through generations in Egypt.
Garnish and Serve Molokhia
Molokhia is garnished with pickled red onions, and served hot next to vermicelli rice, roasted chicken or Kabab Halla.
Egyptian Molokhia VS Lebanese Molokhia
To the best of my knowledge, Molokhia is one of those dishes that is more or less cooked the same way in every Egyptian family I am aware of. However, the Lebanese community that took refuge in Egypt during the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) figured out an extra ingredient that took the Egyptian classic soup to the next level, which is fresh cilantro leaves. Chopped along with the Molokhia leaves, the aromatic cilantro enlivens the deep taste of Molokhia and adds a refreshing aftertaste that I am fond of. In Lebanon and parts of Palestine, Molokhia leaves are cooked whole and served as a stew rather than a soup.
To 5 secrets for a no-fail Molokhia
- Use the right ratio of broth to blended Molokhia. 2 ½ cups of broth is enough to cook 400 grams of frozen Molokhia.
- Don’t cover the Molokhia pot at any point as the color will lose its vibrancy and the soup will separate from the leaves.
- Don’t overcook the garlic in the ghee. Remove it from the heat once the garlic-coriander paste becomes fragrant and turns into an orange-hued color.
- Temper the Molokhia. Add the frozen Molokhia to a warm broth and not too hot.
- Simmer and not over boil Molokhia soup. Boiling this soup too much damages the texture, and dulls its vivid green color.
Subscribe & join my foodie tribe
Molokhia: Egyptian Soup of Jute Mallow
Serves 4-6 people
- Frozen bag of minced green Molokhia (400 grams), see notes
- 1/4 cup fresh minced cilantro, optional
- 2 1/2 cups broth (chicken broth, beef broth or vegetable broth)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 5 whole garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- Salt and pepper
- Defrost the frozen Molokhia: Defrost the Molokhia overnight in the fridge.
- Warm the broth: Add 2- 2 1/2 cups of broth of your choice to a medium pan and warm over low heat. The broth should be just warm to touch and not too hot.
- Add the Molokhia to the broth: Add the defrosted Molokhia to the warm broth and blend them together well using a wire whisk, until the Molokhia is totally incorporated into the broth. At this point you can add the fresh minced cilantro, if you’re using, and whisk so well. Add 1 crushed garlic clove and whisk again and let the Molokhia gently simmer over low heat. Don’t cover the Molokhia and don’t let it boil.
- Make the tasha: In a mortar and pestle, pound together 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 5 whole gloves of garlic and 1 tablespoon of dry coriander seeds to a fine paste. Toss 2 tablespoons of ghee in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once the ghee is hot, toss in the coriander-garlic paste. Add the Molokhia-cilantro paste to the hot ghee and stir continuously for a minute or two over low heat until the paste becomes fragrant, crispy, and orange tinted. Immediately toss the Tasha into the simmering Molokhia soup. To catch all the strayed bites of garlic and coriander, add a ladle of Molokhia soup to the skillet where you fried the Tasha, swirl and add back to the Molokhia soup pan, and serve the Molokhia immediately.
- Serve the Molokhia: Transfer the Molokhia to a deep serving dish. Don’t cover it. Serve it in individual soup bowls and garnish with pickled red onions (recipe follows). Usually Molokhia is served with vermicelli rice, roasted chicken, or kabab Hala (Egyptian meat stew).
- In a medium jar, combine the red vinegar, salt, pepper, olive oil, sumac and sliced red onions. Tightly seal the jar and shake until the dressing is well combined and the onions are evenly coated with the dressing. Let it rest for 1 hour at least in the fridge and use it to garnish the Molokhia or to use it in other dishes.
- If you are using whole frozen Molokhia leaves or whole fish Molokhia leaves, then blend the leaves first with 1 cup of warm broth and then add them to rest of broth 1 1/2 cup and follow the rest of the steps.
- Tasha (aka Taklia) is a significant cooking asset in the Egyptian traditional cuisine. Simply put, Tasha or Taklia is the process of frying coriander, and garlic in hot ghee and then adding them to a dish. The heat of the hot ghee unlocks the flavors of the coriander and the garlic. When this sizzling mixture of garlic and coriander is added to the Molokhia, it imparts its aromas and flavors and seals the dish with a unique taste and smell.