Mloukhiya (or better known as Mulukhiya) is a traditional dish that belongs to many North African and Middle Eastern countries. Each country has it is own way of cooking it. The Tunisian way is VERY different than the other methods. We eat it with bread here as opposed to rice.
Mloukhia: One of Tunisia’s Most Famous Traditional Dishes
First let’s take a step back. What is Mloukhiya? Mloukhiya comes from the leaves of the Nalta jute plant. In Tunisia, these leaves are dried then ground very finely. This powder is stored in jars and used when cooking Molokhia.
The nutrition profile of this leaf is very promising: it contains fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and selenium, as well as vitamin A, E, K, C, vitamin B6, and niacin.
Cooking Tunisian Mloukhia is simple for the most part. The only disadvantage of this dish is that it requires a minimum of 4 hours to cook. So if you want to eat lunch at 1pm, you better start cooking at 9AM and not later.
Many Tunisians prefer to cook it in the evening for next day’s lunch. Regardless, you need to plan for this fabulous dish. As for the animal protein of Mulukhiyah, generally lamb or beef are used. Some people use rabbit, and some even use octopus. I personally prefer beef, but lamb gives it a special strong flavor.
Mloukhia INGREDIENTS: (serves 4-5)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 6 tbsp Mloukhia
- 1 medium onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 4 pieces of meat (lamb or beef – I used lamb)
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1 tsp coriander & caraway
- Salt & pepper
- 2 sage leaves
Tunisian Mloukhiya RECIPE:
Cooking Tunisian Mloukhiya
- Heat some water in a saucepan or in your kettle. Set aside.
- In a medium pot without the heat turned on, add the olive oil and the Mloukhiya powder. Mix well until combined. Slowly start adding the hot water while mixing. It will become gelatinous but don’t worry, it will break down with cooking. Once you added a good amount of the hot water and the Mloukhiya relatively broke down, put the pot on medium/low heat and keep stirring. Cover with a lid and stir every 10 min.
- In the meantime, season the meat. I used lamb for this recipe. Place your meat in a bowl and add the chopped onions, garlic, tomato paste, olive oil, chili flakes, turmeric, coriander & caraway, salt & pepper. Mix well! Set aside
- Once the Mloukhia has been simmering for 2 hrs, add the meat. Cover and let simmer again for another 2 hrs.
- Add the sage leaves and uncover the pot for the last 20-30 min of cooking so that the oil floats on top and the consistency of the sauce becomes a little thick.
- Spoon in shallow bowls and serve with hot bread.
A couple of tips for a successful Mloukhiya:
- Be easy on the salt. Mloukhiya is salty by nature so make sure you don’t add too much.
- Keep stirring and leave the pot on low heat. Mloukhia tends to stick to the bottom of the pot if you don’t stir it, especially in the beginning of cooking.
- The longer you store Mloukhia, the better it tastes. That is why we cook it a day before.
This Tunisian Mloukhia recipe is part of the #TasteTunisia initiative. In search of Tunisian cuisine, through a series of articles/videos, Carthage Magazine offers a window to the Tunisian food and recipes.
The Taste Tunisia initiative is supported by Carthage Magazine and led by international registered dietitians-nutritionists from Tunisia, making it the ultimate initiative that celebrates and promotes Tunisian cuisine.
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