Molokhia

Molokhia is a staple. I haven't met a single person who grew up in the community (or even a descendent of someone who grew up in the community) that doesn't like it. The texture of the soup is a little gelatinous (similar to Ocra) but don't let that put you off! Cutting the leaves very fine minimises this and anyway, it's part of what makes it so satisfying.

Molokhia leaves can be bought fresh in Greek, Middle Eastern and some Far-East Asian grocery shops. They must be washed thoroughly, dried, and then blended in a food processor. 

In Egyptian cooking, molokhia leaves are traditionally left quite large, but the Jews of Sudan community them very fine for this soup (to about the same consistency as you would blend herbs for pesto). If you are buying frozen molokhia, defrost before using and check the consistency, as you may have to blend them further.

Molokhia leaves can also be bought dried and then blended, although I can’t attest to the success of this recipe with dried leaves. 

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Serves 6-8

Stock

Ingredients
1 large chicken* 
6 bay leaves
½ tbsp. black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods
½ tbsp. allspice corns
½ tsp. turmeric
1 onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic, whole
2 tsps salt
2.75 ltrs water

Method
•    Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan, ensuring the chicken is covered with water
•    Simmer for 1½ to 2 hours until the chicken is cooked
•    Remove the chicken and set aside** 
•    Strain the stock through a muslin cloth into a large bowl, rinse the pan and then transfer the stock back into it, adding the remaining 750mls water
•    Try the stock and add more salt to taste

Molokhia

Ingredients
    6 tbsps. dried coriander
    7 large cloves garlic***
    40 mls oil
    500g molokhia
    Juice of ½ lemon

Method
•    Puree the garlic and fry in the oil
•    When the garlic has turned brown add the coriander and fry for a further 30-40 seconds, until a thick paste has formed. Mix this into to the stock
•    Put the molokhia in a bowl and add two ladles of stock. Whisk until a thick, smooth texture
•    Pour the molokhia back into the rest of the stock and gently simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, simmer for a further 5 minutes and serve. The molokhia should be evenly suspended throughout the stock - if it boils it will separate

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Molokhia is traditionally served with rice, pita croutons and chicken (or the meat you made the stock with). Each person serves themselves and chooses and adjusts the elements on their plate to the consistency they prefer. Chili powder is also commonly added by each individual to taste.

An Optional Garnish:

Finely dice 1 small shallot and combine with white malt vinegar and chili powder. 
  

*Lamb or beef can also be used, use a cut with bones. A vegetable stock base can also be used, it is not at all traditional, but apparently also very nice.

**If you are eating the molokhia immediately you can leave the chicken in the oven on a low heat to keep warm, if not it can be reheated the next day

***Up to a whole large bulb can be added and flavour will not be compromised