Arabic Language Blog

How To Cook Mlookhiyeh Posted by on Nov 12, 2012 in Culture, Vocabulary

Mlookhiyeh (مُلوخِيَّة) is one of the most popular dishes in the Arab world generally. In essence, it is the leaves of Corchorus species, which are used as a vegetable around the Middle East and North Africa . In Western contexts it is usually referred to as ‘Jew’s Mallow Stew.’ It is thoroughly cooked and cannot be eaten raw.


After being thoroughly cooked, Mlookhiyeh is offered with white rice (أرزّ), toasted pita bread (خبز), onions in vinegar (بصَل بالخَلّ) and could either include lamb shanks or chicken (دجاج). These additional ingredients in principle soothe the bitterness of Mlookhiyeh.  Also, for flavoring, many individuals like to add some lemon juice (عصير الحامض). Some refer to Morocco as the home country of the Mlookhiyeh dish; while others claim that the dish’s origins lie in Egypt. Nevertheless, it is popular dish in many other countries in the Levant including Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria.


In this post, I would like to share the recipe that I use in preparing a tasty dish of Mlookhiyeh. Like other recipes, we have kindly borrowed this recipe from Taste of Beirut. It is a great place for getting authentic recipes if you are interested in Arabic cuisine (المطبخ العربي).

Ingredients: To feed a family of 4 or 6 people

  • 2 bunches of fresh mlookhiyeh or one package of frozen (400g)/ Fresh leaves chopped will weigh about 8 oz.
  • 1 chicken, cut up in 4 pieces or 2 vegetable bouillon cubes (مَرَقَة), if vegan. You need 2 quarts of bouillon. The chicken can be substituted or added to 3 lamb shanks
  • 6 to 10 cloves of garlic (ثوم)
  • salt, black pepper (بهار أسوَد) to taste
  • 2 Large onions (بصل), one for the chicken broth and one to chop and serve with lemon or vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter (زُبدة) or olive oil or ghee
  • 2 pita breads, cut up in small squares and toasted in a 275F oven (فُرن)
  • 2 cups of rice of your choice (I use Basmati or Jasmine), cooked according to direction on package
  • One cup of vinegar (red) or fresh lemon juice


  • Make the broth the day before. Place a whole chicken, cut up in 4 pieces in a large pot. Fill it up with cold water and bring to a boil. When it starts simmering, skim the froth at the surface and regulate the heat so that it simmers gently for about an hour. Add an onion, cut in quarters. You can also add a cinnamon stick (عود قِرفَة), some salt and black pepper, a few whole allspice grains, but this is strictly optional. If you are vegan, simply dissolve a veggie cube in 2 quarts of water and set aside.
  • Cool the broth and remove the chicken pieces. Run the broth through a sieve and put the chicken in a bowl and when cool enough to handle, remove the skin and cut  into  serving pieces. Place the chicken on a platter. One extra step is to place the broth in the fridge overnight and the next day, scrape off all the fat that has congealed on the surface. The broth should measure about 2 quarts.
  • Wash the mlookhiyeh and make sure it is perfectly clean. Now dry it in a salad spinner, or if you want to use my grandmother’s technique, cut off the leaves and dry them on a clean bed sheet for a couple of hours, by laying them flat on the sheet, vein side up. Discard the wilted leaves.
  • While the leaves are drying, chop the fresh garlic cloves  and run them  through a press into a small skillet. Place 2 tablespoons of butter, or olive oil, or ghee(سمنة) in the skillet. Heat the garlic and fat for a  minute until golden. Remove from the heat. Heat the broth and drop the toasted garlic in it, stirring for a few seconds. Remove from the heat.
  • Gather all the leaves and drop them in the food processor without packing them. Process the leaves in batches, pulsing all the while in one-second pulses, until the leaves are chopped very well. Place the chopped leaves in a bowl and heat up the broth. When the broth is simmering, drop the leaves in the broth, stirring with a wooden spoon, until they are well spread out with the broth and turn off the heat. Add some salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Present the mlookhiyeh in a soup tureen along some plain rice, pieces of boiled chicken, toasted pita croutons (خبز مُحمَّص), a small bowl of vinegar with chopped onion (can be substituted with lemon juice).


The traditional way to eat mlookhiyeh is with the following:

  • A platter of plain rice or rice with vermicelli noodles. Can be done in advance to save some time
  • A bowl of toasted pita croutons, also can be done ahead of time.
  • A small bowl containing about 1 cup of vinegar (or lemon juice) to which a chopped onion has been added.
  • A platter of chicken, cut in small serving pieces.


How you eat it is up to you! You decide the order of ingredients. I usually pile the rice, then the croutons, then the soup, then either the chicken or the lamb shanks and then the onions and vinegar.

It is a great meal to prepare during the Winter (الشتاء) or whenever you feel like having a full and satisfying dish! If you are planning on inviting family and friends for dinner, this is a remarkable and splendid dish that will leave everyone satisfied and full! Be sure to give it a shot!

Sahtein!! (صَحتين)


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About the Author: jesa

Salam everyone! Born as an American to two originally Arab parents, I have been raised and have spent most of my life in Beirut, Lebanon. I have lived my good times and my bad times in Beirut. I was but a young child when I had to learn to share my toys and food with others as we hid from bombs and fighting during the Lebanese Civil War. I feel my connection to Arabic as both a language and culture is severing and so it is with you, my readers and fellow Arabic lovers, and through you that I wish to reestablish this connection by creating one for you.