Traditional Egyptian Peasant Soup (Melokhia)
Melokhia (corchorus olitoris) is a green, leafy vegetable that is popular in Egypt and countries of the Levant. It is known by several names and spellings such as Jews mallow, mlookheeyeh, mlukhiyya, mulukhiyya, melokheya and of course corchorus. Melokhia is also the name of the national dish of Egypt, a soup that is extremely popular today as was during pharoanic times. Melokhia is also used as a sauce spooned over rice and chicken.
Melokhia is an acquired taste. It tastes like bitter spinach or sorrel when cooked and develops a mucilaginous and viscous texture, like okra. Melokhia requires short cooking time. Because of its mucilaginous texture, the leaves will remain “suspended” in the stock, once they sink to the bottom of the pot, it is overcooked. Melokhia is normally sold fresh in the Middle East but elsewhere is available dried, frozen, or canned from Middle Eastern grocers.
1 lb. fresh or frozen melokhia
5 c vegetable or chicken stock
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp ghee or olive oil
1-2 tsp. ground coriander
1/8 tsp. red pepper, ground
salt and ground black pepper
1. If using fresh melokhia, cut into small pieces and rinse with cold water and set aside. If using frozen, thaw melokhia in cool water, remove and set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the stock and bring to a boil. Stir in the melokhia and simmer for 25 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a small pan heat the ghee and add the crushed garlic and fry till slightly brown. Stir in the coriander and red peeper and mix to form a paste.
4. Add the coriander-red pepper paste to the soup and simmer for a while longer (5 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.