Molokhia (ملخية لبنانية / ملوخية بالزيت) is a beloved Middle Eastern comfort food that kids and adults adore. Known as Jute leaves, this vegan Lebanese recipe is warming and mouthwatering, the perfect way to get a load of greens into your diet.
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What is Molokhia?
Molokhia is the Arabic word for Jute Mallow, Egyptian Spinach or Jews Mallow.
This plant is highly popular across the Middle East, it is considered a staple ‘green’.
In our Lebanese accent, we say mloukhia, pronounced as mmloo
The ‘m' and the ‘l’ are fused together. Others say it a mulukhia and it is also written as molokhiyeh.
Molokhia is usually enjoyed two ways; as a leaved version (as the Lebanese mostly like it) and as a soup version (as the Palestinians and Egyptians like it) I love both.
The version pictured within this recipe post is vegan Lebanese Molokhia.
Molokhia leaves can be used fresh, dried or frozen, all available to buy at your local Middle Eastern grocer.
🥬Preparing Fresh Molokhia Leaves
Preparing fresh jute leaves is quite a process, but so worth it, as it’s freshest!
It requires several hours of labour due to taking off the leaves from the stalks (which are very long - about 1-1.5 (up to 4.11") meters long)
Once this is done, the leaves are then de-stemmed, checked for any unwanted browning/debris, washed until the water is clean (cut if required) and used directly in cooking or dried or frozen.
Side note: wear gloves as your fingernails will turn brown/black from de-stemming. Not a good look - trust me (The first time I sat with the ladies to prep fresh molokhia, I hated my life - I was a teen, haha)
🥬DIY Dried Molokhia Leaves
Follow the aforementioned steps for working with fresh molokhia, then dry the leaves well (I usually use a salad spinner - making sure there is no dampness).
Place the leaves individually on a flat surface, preferably in the sun, and allow the leaves to completely dry - this can take one day+ depending on weather conditions.
Store in an air-tight container or snap-lock bag in the pantry. Dried jute mallow leaves are a dull green/brown colour and will last for months.
To hydrate dried mloukia leaves, simply soak in water until rehydrated and then ring out with your hands as much water as possible.
🥬How to Freeze Molokhia Leaves
Follow the steps above in the fresh section and then dry them using a salad spinner.
Ensure the leaves are fully dry (chop if required) before portioning out into snap lock bags and storing flat in the freezer. They will store for several months.
The frozen variety doesn’t need to be thawed out prior to cooking.
😋Why you’ll love this recipe
- It’s diet-friendly - catering for vegans (Middle Easterners refer to this version as vegetarian mloukhia) and gluten-free.
- Easy to prepare.
- Healthy - Jute mallow leaves are packed with essential minerals and vitamins.
- Suitable for Easter or Ramadan Iftar.
✔️What You’ll Need
Notes on some of the ingredients, the full list of ingredients and their measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Jute leaves - fresh, frozen or dried varieties of molokhia can be used and they are all equally good.
Though frozen is the easiest to use, with the least amount of preparation. Frozen molokhia doesn’t need to be thawed, use immediately from the packet.
Jute leaves only take about 15 minutes to cook through, I like to cook mine a little longer (20-25 minutes) I find this helps combat any bitterness.
Young jackfruit - this is used in place of chicken or lamb, which is commonly used in this recipe.
Young jackfruit has a neutral flavor and resembles shredded chicken.
I prefer to use the canned organic variety with minimal ingredients.
My children, who aren’t on a vegan diet, loved this version - winning!
Coriander (cilantro) whilst I always advocate using the fresh variety, frozen can be used also.
For a flavor boost, my family loves to add dried coriander also.
Coriander, along with garlic, is a key ingredient - do not skip or skimp. In fact, you can up the garlic if you like.
Vegetable stock gives a wonderful flavor and requires no additional salt, I like using the Massel brand as it is vegan.
Fresh lemon juice is always added at the end. I like to cut up lemon wedges and allow people to add as much as they like. The lemon flavoring enhances the flavor.
🔪Step by step guide
Step 1 - Over medium heat, add olive oil to a pot, once heated fry off the onion, garlic, and fresh coriander (cilantro) until wilted.
Step 2 - Add all spices and stir through, then add frozen molokhia (jute leaves), and fry for 5 minutes until they have reduced in size.
Step 3 - Add vegetable stock, stir through and then turn heat to med-low and allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes with the lid on. Check in every five minutes and stir.
Step 4 - Once cooked through, serve warm on top of rice and a splash of fresh lemon juice.
Omit the young jackfruit if you can’t get your hands on this. It won’t be a disappointing meal.
Add a little bit of heat by adding a small chopped chilli or dried chilli flakes.
Use finely chopped mulukhia to create a soup instead. Kids love to mix this with rice, parents love to feed this to toddlers.
🍴What to serve with?
Molokhia is always served with vermicelli rice.
Our family marries molokhia with fasolia (red kidney bean stew).
The flavors of these two dishes with the vermicelli rice complement each other so well (I’m salivating at the thought)
Sometimes a fresh salad is also served too. Try my fattoush salad.
You can also enjoy molokhia with Lebanese pita bread.
Ensure that the frozen molokhia is frozen as whole leaves and not chopped up for this Lebanese recipe. The chopped-up variety will result in a goopy soup.
If the frozen leaves are a large, give them a quick rough chop (not small)
If the jute mallow leaves are a little bit bitter (never overwhelming), this flavor will definitely subside the next day.
Mloukhia makes the best leftovers, the flavor is stronger the next day, in my opinion.
Jute leaves will absorb the majority, if not all, of the vegetable stock. If you would like your molokhia to have a little more broth, add half a cup more at a time. Don’t forget to taste test.
Do not simmer on high, this dish is best cooked on med-low heat.
The Molokhia vegetable (leaves) turns mucilaginous (mucus-like) when cooked due to the soluble fiber within. This is similar to when okra is cooked. This is a naturally occurring reaction.
Molokhia is generally found in ethnic grocers such as Middle Eastern, Greek or Asian. It is always found in the freezer section. Sometimes it can be found fresh, still on the tall stalks, or on the shelves as a dried variety. Ask for either molokhia, Egyptian spinach, jute leaves or jews mallow.
Yes. Once your cooked molokhia has cooled to room temperature, place it in an airtight container for up to 3 months. It can also be stored in the fridge for up to five days. Leftover molokhia is so good as the flavors infuse further.
Once the leaves are separated from the stems, check for any unwanted browning/debris. Place them into a bowl and wash by agitating the leaves until the water is clean, clear and has no debris. Water should be changed several times during this process.
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Lebanese Molokhia (Jute Mallow Leaves - ملخية)
- 375 g Molokhia Jute Mallow Leaves
- 230 g Jackfruit (canned) pulled apart
- ½ med Onion Finely diced
- 1 small bunch Coriander Fresh, finely chopped Cilantro (small handful)
- 5 cloves Garlic crushed
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil extra virgin
- ½ tablespoon Dried coriander ciliantro
- 1 teaspoon Lebanese 7 spice substitute all spice
- 500 ml Vegetable stock
- ½ teaspoon Black pepper cracked
- Over medium heat, add olive oil in a pot, once heated fry off onion, garlic and fresh coriander (cilantro) until wilted.½ med Onion, 5 cloves Garlic, 1 tablespoon Olive oil, 1 small bunch Coriander
- Add all spices and stir through, then add frozen molokhia (jute leaves), fry for 5 minutes until they have reduced in size.375 g Molokhia, ½ tablespoon Dried coriander, 1 teaspoon Lebanese 7 spice, ½ teaspoon Black pepper
- Add vegetable stock, stir through and then stir through young jackfruit. Turn heat to med-low and allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes with lid on. Check in every five minutes and stir.230 g Jackfruit, 500 ml Vegetable stock
- Once cooked through, serve warm on top of rice and a splash of fresh lemon juice.
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.