Nov 5, 2013

Mloukhieh- the leafy green of the Middle East...

My guess is that some of you may be thinking "mloukhieh... what the heck is that?!" (answer: it's the green stuff in the picture above). But seriously, Mloukhieh is a type of leafy green typical to some Middle Eastern and North African cuisines. It can be bought fresh or dry. The taste is so unique, that I'm not quite sure how to describe it- its like a bitter, smoky version of spinach. I really love it, but it's not so easy to find any over here... so if you got connections- use them :) And by that I mean whenever friends or family from the Middle East are over to visit, I'll ask them to bring some dried mloukhieh with them (yes- I'm that kind of friend, the one that asks for food items as gifts or favours). 

Anyhow, there are really two ways to prepare mloukhieh: either as a stew or in "chunks", pan seared. I prefer the latter, and here is just one way to add more greens into your diet. It involves a lot of cilantro, garlic and lemon (you can see the dried mloukhieh leaves on the left, above).
But first, you gotta soak the dried mloukhieh for about 10-15 minutes.
And you're gonna chop the cilantro and garlic and cook with some olive oil in a deep large pan.. you can then add the soaked (and drained) mloukhieh...
Because I'm now officially vegan as of April 2013, I just eat it with rice and some veggies (I especially love it with slices of bell pepper and tomatoes), but usually it is accompanied with chicken (the type of meat may vary depending on the country's local traditions). If you can find mloukhieh and you've never tried it before, I highly recommend introducing a little something new to your tastebuds :) 

Recipe for Mloukhieh

200gr dried mloukhieh
A LOT of fresh cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic head, finely chopped
1-2 lemons (limes work too), juice of
2 cups hot water (or vegetable broth)

Place the dried mloukhieh in a large bowl with water. Let it all soak for about 10-15 minutes. Then remove and squeeze the water out of the leaves with your hands. 
In a large and deep pan, heat the olive oil, add the garlic and cilantro for a few minutes on high heat, until its fragrant. 
Then add the mloukhieh and stir everything together- still on high heat. 
Lower heat, add the hot liquid of choice, lemon juice, cover the pan with lid and continue to cook for 20-25 minutes. Serve with rice. 

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