Chicken Molokhia is an Egyptian green stew made by combining molokhia leaves with chicken, garlic, other herbs, and spices. The chicken is simmered in a flavorful broth until tender. The dry molokhia leaves are then added to the broth and cooked until it is infused with their distinct earthy flavor. It is commonly served with Arabic white rice or pita bread.
The Molokhia is a popular and flavorful dish that originates from Egypt and is enjoyed in various Middle Eastern and North African countries. It is named after its main ingredient, "molokhia," which refers to the leaves of the jute plant (Corchorus olitorius). In other countries, this leave is called saluyot in the Philippines
It holds a special place in Egyptian, Jordanian, and Levantine cuisine and is commonly enjoyed as a hearty and comforting dish, especially during the colder months. It is also a dish that brings people together, often served on special occasions, family gatherings, and festive celebrations.
In this post, I am using dry molokhia leaves rather than fresh leaves since it is not slimy and has a stronger flavor. Furthermore, it is more accessible and you can keep it in storage for longer use. Nonetheless, it tastes delicious and is best served with white rice and some slices of lemon.
Dry vs Fresh Molokhia leaves
The difference between dry and fresh molokhia leaves depends on their texture, moisture content, and flavor:
In terms of its texture, the fresh molokhia makes the soup slimy when cooked while dry molokhia leaves is in a powdered form.
In terms of flavor, the fresh molokhia leaves have a milder and grassy taste, while the dry molokhia has a more intense or concentrated flavor.
In terms of its preparation, the Fresh leaves require cleaning, washing, and chopping before use, while dry leaves are already processed into a powder form, making them easier to incorporate into dishes. The powder can be rehydrated during cooking, adding thickness and infusing the dish with molokhia flavor.
To make chicken molokhia, here are the ingredients needed:
1. Lemon: Lemon adds a tangy and citrusy flavor to the molokhia, and it is often squeezed into the dish before serving to enhance the overall taste.
2. Garlic: Garlic is commonly sauteed with olive oil before adding to the broth to add an aromatic flavor to the molokhia.
3. Cardamom and Bay Leaves: Cardamom and Bay Leaves are both spices that add an aroma to the dish They are typically added to the broth during cooking and removed before serving.
4. Chicken: Chicken is a common protein choice for molokhia. I am using chicken thighs and legs since they are moist and juicy compared to the breast part.
5. Bouillon Cube: A bouillon cube can be used to enhance the flavor of the molokhia. It is dissolved in water and added to the dish for an additional savory taste.
6. Water: Water serves as the base for the molokhia broth, providing the liquid necessary to cook the ingredients and create the desired consistency.
7. Dry Molokhia Powder: Dry molokhia powder is the key ingredient in the dish. It is made from dried molokhia leaves. The powder is added to the broth, where it thickens and imparts the characteristic flavor of molokhia. Also, It is more convenient that way since you don't need to store it in the fridge.
What makes this dish healthy?
Molokhia is healthy because it is rich in vitamins A, C, and E which is good for your health. In addition to that, it also contain high minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium which are important for your immune system.
Additionally, molokhia contains antioxidants that help protect the body and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. It is also rich in fiber which is good for your digestion and promote early satiety. Lastly, it is low in calories and fat, making it perfect for controlling your weight.
How to dry the Molokhia leaves?
- To dry the molokhia leaves and make them into a powder, you need to clean them first with cold water to remove any dirt and then dry it with a clean kitchen towel.
- Next, separate the leaves from the stem and then place all the leaves on the clean cloth or table which the surface must be clean and dry
- Spread the cleaned leaves to ensure proper air circulation. You can keep it at room temperature in the living room
- Allow the leaves to air dry for at least 3 days until they become brittle and crumble easily.
- Once they are dry, you can transfer the molokhia leaves into the blender to make into a fine powder
- Store it all in a plastic airtight container and keep it in the cabinet. They can last for up to a year without becoming spoiled.
Step by Step Instruction
There are two ways to cook molokhia: Using dry leaves and fresh leaves
1. Using Dry Leaves
- Firstly, I add the chicken, cardamom & bay leaves, and poured water on the cooking pot. I let it simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. During the simmering process, I added the chicken bouillon cube.
- Next, in a separate pan, I add olive oil and saute the dried molokhia leaves for 1-2 minutes before transferring them into the cooking pot. Continue simmering to help absorb the flavor of the molokhia
- In the same pan, saute the garlic with olive oil until it becomes light brown. Transfer into the cooking pot and continue cooking the chicken until it becomes soft. Add salt and black pepper for taste, and drizzle a few drops of lemon juice.
- You can eat it and serve it with rice and salads.
2. Using Fresh Leaves
- The process of simmering the chicken in the cooking pot is the same. The only difference is I combined the chopped fresh molokhia leaves and the 1-2 cup of broth of the chicken in the blender to make it into a thick stew.
- After that, I transfer it into the cooking pot and continue simmering till the chicken is cooked.
- Lastly, I added the sauteed garlic and lemon juice to the pot, and stir gently to absorb the flavor. Add salt and black pepper for taste
- This is perfect to serve with rice or pita bread.
Tips and Hints
- If you don’t like your molokhia soup slimy, use the dried leaves or the powdered molokhia based on this recipe.
- This is perfect to serve with Middle Eastern white rice, basmati, or Lebanese vermicelli rice together with Arabic salad.
- Make sure to clean the chicken by removing the skin and washing it with salt & lemon to remove the smell when cooking it in the pot.
- Garlic is the second important ingredient since this is what enhances the flavor of the chicken molokhia. Add more if you want a stronger flavor to your dish.
- Dry leaves have a stronger flavor than using fresh leaves
Frequently Asked Questions
Molokhia leaves, also known as Egyptian spinach or Jew's mallow, are dark green, leafy vegetables with a slightly slimy texture when cooked. You can either put it directly into the broth or dry it to make it into a powder so you will not have a slimy soup.
You can use lamb, rabbit, beef, or vegan meat like tofu
Yes, molokhia can be a vegan-friendly dish. A vegetarian version is prepared by using vegetable broth instead of chicken bouillon cube and using other plant-based protein meat such as tofu or seitan.
When it’s cooked, you can store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. But if you want to store it longer, you can place it in the freezer which will last for up to 2 months. However, this is only possible for fresh molokhia leaves, not the dry version.
If you check in the Middle Eastern or Egyptian grocery store, you will notice that frozen molokhia leaves are made from fresh leaves combined with broth or water.
Egyptian Molokhia is a thick soup/stew made by finely chopping jute plant leaves, which is often cooked with meat. Lebanese, on the other hand, are using the whole larger leaf pieces without chopping them resulting in a thicker consistency.
Egyptian Molokhia is typically served over rice or with bread, while Lebanese/Levantine Molokhia is commonly served as a soup accompanied by bread for dipping.
📋 Recipe Card
Egyptian Chicken Molokhia
- 6 Cups Water
- 8 Pieces Chicken Leg and Thigh
- 1 Cup Dried Molokhia Leaves / Jute Leaves / Saluyot
- 8 Cloves Garlic, grated
- 4 Pieces Cardamom
- 4 Pieces Bay Leaves
- ¼ Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Piece Chicken Bouillon Cube
- 1-2 Teaspoons Salt
- ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
Using Dry Molokhia Leaves or Powder
- Pour water, and add chicken, cardamom, and bay leaves to the cooking pot.
- Once it started to boil, lower the heat and let it simmer for 25 minutes. Add the chicken bouillon cube.
- Add olive oil in a separate pan. Once hot, add the dried molokhia leaves and stir for 1-2 minutes. Set it aside
- Transfer the sauteed dried molokhia leaves into the pot. Continue simmering until the chicken is soft and cooked.
- Using the same pan, add olive oil again, followed by grated garlic. Stir till it turns light brown.
- Transfer the sauteed garlic to the cooking pot. Stir gently and let it simmer for a few minutes to help absorb its flavor.
- Add salt, black pepper, and lemon juice for taste. Give a gentle stir to combine before turning off the heat.
- Serve it with any Middle Eastern white rice / vermicelli rice or arabic salad
Using Fresh Molokhia Leaves
- Step 1 and Step 2 are the same when boiling the chicken and adding the cardamom & bay leaves
- Chopped the fresh molokhia leaves into pieces and transfer them into the blender. Pour 1-2 cups of the broth of the boiled chicken on it. Turn it on till it turns a thick & watery-like consistency
- Transfer the molokhia-broth mixture into the cooking pot. Continue simmering till the chicken is cooked and soft
- While the chicken is simmering, add olive oil in a separate pan. Once hot, add chopped or grated garlic. Stir till turns light brown
- Transfer the sauteed garlic, and add lemon juice to the pot. Stir gently and let it simmer for a few minutes to help absorb the flavor. Add salt and black pepper for taste.
- Serve it with rice or pita bread, and salad as you desired.
- If you don't like your soup slimy, use dry molokhia leaves
- Dry molokhia leaves has more intense flavor and smell compared to the fresh leave.
- Before boiling the chicken, make sure you clean it with lemon and salt to remove the odor.
- For pictures of the step by step cooking instruction, please refer to the post.