Molokhia with Spiced Chicken

Molokhia gets its name from a dark leafy green of the same name. Also known as Jew’s mallow, it develops an okra-like viscosity when cooked and is an acquired taste for some. In Lebanon, writer Salma Abdelnour grew up eating molokhia served with crispy pita croutons and a drizzle of dressing made with red wine vinegar and onion. But Egyptians often serve the dish without these garnishes, as in this recipe from Eric Monkaba.


Slideshow:More Middle Eastern Recipes


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  • Servings: 4 to 5

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  • One 3 1/2-pound chicken
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • One 4-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • One 14-ounce package frozen molokhia (see Note) or two 10-ounce packages chopped frozen spinach
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Steamed short-grain rice, for serving

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large, deep pot, cover the chicken with the onion, rosemary, cinnamon stick and bay leaf and 12 cups of water. Top with a small plate to keep the chicken submerged and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the chicken is cooked through, 45 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let cool slightly, then cut into wings, breasts, thighs and drumsticks and pat dry.

  2. Strain the broth into a heatproof bowl. Skim off the fat. Return 2 cups of the broth to the pot; reserve the remaining broth for another use. Add the <em>molokhia</em> to the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, using the side of a knife, mash the garlic to a paste with 1 tablespoon of the coriander. In a small skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the garlic paste and cook over moderately high heat until golden and fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape the paste into the <em>molokhia</em> and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of coriander with the ground cinnamon, cumin, paprika and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Sprinkle the chicken all over with the spices. In a large nonstick skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the chicken and cook over high heat, turning once, until golden and heated through and the skin is crisp, about 4 minutes.

  5. Mound rice in the center of 4 or 5 shallow bowls and top with the chicken. Ladle the <em>molokhia </em>around the chicken and serve.

Make Ahead

The poached chicken and broth can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.


Molokhia (other spellings include molokia) is available at Middle Eastern markets. The leaves are usually sold frozen. Spinach is a fine substitute.

Suggested Pairing

Fresh, full-bodied French white such as a Rhône-style blend.

Photo © Petrina Tinslay Published February 2012

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