Recipe of the Week: Mulukhiyah
I would love to see the looks on people’s faces as they try to pronounce this week’s recipe of choice.It may be a tough one to pronounce but I’m hoping it proves to be easier to make than I am anticipating.
Mulukhiyah is very much like a stew, though I grew up eating it over rice vs. on its own like a stew or soup. The dish consists of the mulukhiyah leaves cooked in the broth of whatever meat you use plus spices and lemon juice.
Up until very recently, I thought mulukhiyah was made with dried grape leaves – turns out I was totally wrong about that. You can cook this with lamb, beef or chicken. I vaguely remember eating this with bone-in chicken, but I think my mom stuck to using lean cuts of lamb or beef instead.
My mom had lots of random things growing in the backyard of my childhood home. I remember our fence was overrun with grape leaves and I loved helping my mom pick them. I guess I just assumed that was also what she used to make this dish. We had a big, sturdy cloth bag that sat at the bottom of our pantry that was filled with dried mulukhiyah leaves and she would cook this stew more often than I cared to eat it.
The leaves are a little bitter tasting and according the the wiki article I just skimmed, they also have a natural thickening agent. The leaves apparently come from a jute plan and there is a good chance that was growing in our backyard too.
Isn’t it lovely how clueless we were as children?
Although we have since moved out of the house I grew up in and no longer grow random leaves and veggies in our backyard, I am saved by the fact that many of the local Middle Eastern markets sell imported boxes of dried mulukhiyah. I was actually mesmerized by this very discovery last week when I went to pick up a few things to make my mom’s kifta recipe.
To be honest, this wasn’t one of my favorite dishes to eat when I was a kid. That being said, I’m curious to see how my taste buds have matured.
3 1/2 cups of dried mulukhiyah
1 onion finely chopped
1 lb. – 1 1/2 lbs. lamb meat ( you can use chunks or lamb shanks)
4 cloves of garlic
7 cups of water
salt, pepper, allspice and lemon juice to taste
Boil meat in water with salt and spices. Cover and simmer until the meat is tender. Once the meat is tender, remove from water and saute with chopped onion in a bit of olive oil or butter. Add the mulukhiyah and cook it a bit before adding the stewing broth to the mixture ( at least 6-7 cups). Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add lemon juice to taste at the very end. * Serve over rice.
(*I have a feeling slight adjustments will be made to this recipe. The translation was a little vague – so we’ll see how it goes!)