Molokhia (ملخية لبنانية / ملوخية بالزيت) is a beloved Middle Eastern comfort food that kids and adults adore. Known as Jute leaves, this vegan recipe is warming and mouthwatering, the perfect way to get a load of greens into your diet.
Molokhia is the Arabic word for Jute Mallow 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-khee-yeh. The ‘m' and the ‘l’ are fused together. Others say it a mulukhia and it is also written as molokhiyeh.
Whichever way you say it, everyone will know it across the Middle East. It’s a loved meal by all - a crown jewel if you will.
What’s great about it, is that kids adore the taste, which is great as it's a highly beneficial plant to eat.
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.
I know of people who don’t like the slimy goop of a soup the jute leaves make, akin to okra.
The version pictured within this recipe post is vegan Lebanese Molokhia.
😋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
Jute leaves - fresh, frozen or dried varieties of molokhia can be used and they are all equally good. Though the easiest to use is frozen 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 flavour 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 flavour 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 flavour 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 flavouring enhances the flavour.
🔪Step by step guide
Step 1 - Over medium heat, add olive oil in 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), 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 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 fasoulia (red kidney bean stew). The flavours of these two dishes with the vermicelli rice complement each other so well (I’m salivating at the thought) Usually a fresh salad is also served too.
You can also enjoy molokhia with Lebanese pita bread.
Ensure that the frozen molokhia is frozen as leaves and not chopped up. The chopped up variety will result in a goopy soup. If the frozen leaves are a little bit, give them a quick rough chop (but not small)
If the jute mallow leaves are a little bit bitter (never overwhelming), this flavour will definitely subside the next day. Mloukhia makes the best leftovers, the flavour 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 too.
Do not simmer on high, this dish is best cooked on med-low heat.
🥬Fresh Molokhia Leaves
My family likes to work with fresh mloukhia direct from the farm whenever possible. It’s usually my Mum knows someone, who knows someone, who is going to the farm to purchase a bulk lot for several families.
Usually, we purchase quite a bit, to last us a while. We prepare the jute leaves 3 ways; fresh, frozen or dried. Lasting us several seasons.
Preparing fresh jute leaves is quite a back-breaking process, but so worth it, as it’s fresh. It requires several hours due to taking off the leaves from the stalks (which are very long - about 1-1.5 metres long) - so get comfy.
Once this is done, the leaves are then de-stemmed, checked for any unwanted browning/debris, washed until the water runs clean (cut if required) and used directly in cooking or dried or frozen. See below for 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)
🥬Dried Molokhia Leaves
These can be purchased or homemade.
For the homemade, follow the aforementioned steps, 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 airtight 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 mloukhia leaves, simply soak in water until rehydrated and then ring out with your hands as much water as possible.
🥬Frozen Molokhia Leaves
These can be purchased or homemade.
To freeze these yourself, 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.
Molokhia turns mucilaginous when cooked due to the soluble fibre within. This is similar to when okra is cooked.
Molokhia is generally found at an ethnic grocer 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, jute leaves or jews mallow.
Yes, it freezes well 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.
Did you enjoy making this vegan Lebanese molokhia recipe? I would love to hear from you, leave me a comment below and give me a rating if you made this recipe. This will help me sustain Plant Based Folk.
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Molokhia (Lebanese 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.
- Add all spices and stir through, then add frozen molokhia (jute leaves), fry for 5 minutes until they have reduced in size.
- 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.
- Once cooked through, serve warm on top of rice and a splash of fresh lemon juice.
- Ensure that the frozen molokhia are frozen as leaves and not chopped up. The chopped up variety will result in a goopy soup. If the frozen leaves are a little big, give them a quick rough chop (but not small)
- If the jute mallow leaves are a little bit bitter (never overwhelming), this flavour will definitely subside the next day. Mloukhia makes the best left-overs, the flavour is stronger the next day, in my opinion.
- Jute leaves will absorb the majority, if not all, 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 too.
- Do not simmer on high, this dish is best cooked on med-low heat.