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21 June 2009

Mloukhieh – Jew’s Mallow & Cardamom-Infused Chicken over Rice

Photography by Sarka Babicka

As I begin writing this, the aromas of mloukhieh, cardamom, coriander, and garlic infuse the air, sending my stomach in mad rages. Mloukhieh, the Egyptian national dish, is extremely popular in Lebanon and is one of my favorite dishes. Mloukhieh leaves are a type of edible green similar to spinach and in the English language are called Jew’s mallow. This leafy green vegetable has a mucilaginous texture, similar to okra, when cooked. The plant is said to be rich in antioxidants.

Mloukhieh leaves can be found at any Middle Eastern grocer and most likely in frozen form. Although, fresh leaves were used in the following recipe, using frozen is fine as well.

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Whilst in Dubai, I met up with Bishnu, an incredible private chef who was nice enough to share his secrets on making the perfect mloukhieh:coriander

 

Mloukhieh - Jew's Mallow & Cardamom-Infused Chicken over Rice
 
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In Arabic, mloukhieh means “of the kings”, which refers to the dish as well as the Jew’s mallow leaves that are used. The sweet-scented cardamom, along with the allspice, lends heart-warming flavours to this regal dish. If you can‘t find fresh Jew’s mallow, frozen leaves work just as well, or you can use spinach instead.
Author:
Serves: 4

Ingredients
  • 500g/1lb 2oz chicken breasts, thighs and legs
  • 5 whole cardamom pods, crushed 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 handfuls of coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 1?2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1kg/2lb 4oz fresh or frozen, defrosted, Jew’s mallow leaves or spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1?2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 85ml/23?4fl oz/generous 1?3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Vermicelli Rice
  • 2 toasted medium-large loaves of bought Arabic bread, each about 30cm/12in in diameter, crumbled
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
  1. Put the chicken, cardamom pods and seeds, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, sweet onion, 1 of the garlic cloves, the nutmeg and 750ml/26fl oz/3 cups water in a deep, heavy-based pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover, heat over a medium heat and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer for about 40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the broth is flavourful.
  2. Preheat the oven to 150 ?C/300 ?F/Gas 2. Remove the pan from the heat and strain the contents, reserving the broth. Separate the chicken from the spices and aromatics. Transfer the chicken to an ovenproof plate, then shred the meat from the bones or slice it off. Cover and keep warm in the oven.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep, heavy-based pan over a medium heat.
  4. Add the shallots and cook for 2–3 minutes or until soft and translucent. Meanwhile, pound the remaining cloves of garlic into a smooth paste using a pestle and mortar or process in a mini blender. Add the garlic paste to the pan and cook for 1–2 minutes until fragrant, then add the coriander and stir well. Pour in the reserved chicken broth, sprinkle in the allspice and stir. Add the chopped Jew’s mallow leaves and stir well, then reduce the heat to low and cover partially with a lid. Simmer for 10 minutes, checking that the mixture does not come to the boil, otherwise it can coagulate, rendering it inedible. Jew’s mallow has natural thickening agents, so don’t worry if it looks too runny initially, as it will thicken up.
  5. Mix the red onion and apple vinegar in as mall bowl and set aside.
  6. Dish out the Jew’s mallow mixture into a large serving bowl, and place on the table along with the crumbled bread, chicken, onion vinaigrette and the Vermicelli Rice, each in its own dish. Diners can
  7. then assemble their own dish to their liking, first creating a bed of rice, followed by a layer of Jew’s mallow mixture with as much juice as they like, then chicken, a sprinkling of crumbled bread and finally a drizzle of the onion vinaigrette.

 

 

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Mloukhieh - Jew's Mallow & Cardamom-Infused Chicken over Rice
 
Mloukhieh - Jew's Mallow & Cardamom-Infused Chicken over Rice

 

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9 thoughts on “Mloukhieh – Jew’s Mallow & Cardamom-Infused Chicken over Rice

  1. I can almost smell the fragrance of this dish just by reading the ingredients – shallots, garlic, cardamom and cinnamon – that’s enough to send a clear message to my stomach too!

  2. Pretty good post. I just found your blog and wanted to say
    that I’ve really liked reading your posts. Any way
    I’ll be subscribing to your blog and I hope you write again soon!

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