When you need something sweet and simple, look no further than mahalabia, a “milk pudding” made with just milk, sugar, corn starch, and flavor.
Traditionally, rosewater is the way to go, but if you can find rosewater, you’re better connected than I am. Moroccans go with orange blossom water, but again, that’s not at your local 7-11 either. So if you must, which I did, vanilla works in a pinch, but it’s not a 1:1 trade!
Making mahalabia is super easy, but you have to pay attention. It’s very easy to burn this or not make it thick enough or make it too thick. When I tried making it, it was not thick enough. Ack! But don’t stress too much. Just watch the clues: when it coats the back of your spoon, it’s done.
Play around with this - other versions have cardamon as well. Just watch the heat when you’re boiling the milk - you don’t want it to stick or burn. The final consistency ought to be something similar to Greek yogurt.
Ramesses the Great, public relations genius, takes us to Abu Simbel to visit his masterpiece of self-glorification. We talk about his reign and visiting Aswan with Dominic and Jack one last time. Plus ancient graffiti, singing kids on boats, and pudding!
Molokhia is a vegetable, technically the leaves of the jute plant, also called Jew’s Mallow. Jute, like other mallows such as marshmallow (not that marshmallow, but the original plant) and okra, is mucilaginous, which means that it creates a mucus-lke texture when cooked. Molokhia is also the name of a soup which has been enjoyed by Egyptians since pharaonic times. Does the idea of a slimy bright green soup seem appealing? No?
Well, you’ll never know until you try it. So why not give it a try? Molokhia is full of vitamins, and the onion, garlic, coriander and chicken stock will all help make the soup flavorful and delicious. Serve with a side of rice, and you’re good to go. It’s like a bright green chicken gumbo. Really. Molokhia is vague related to okra, and serves a similar purpose.
There are a variety of different recipes for molokhia, but they all have some consistencies. Most start with chicken, but others use rabbit - which was the original, traditional choice - or duck, lamb, or any other meat. Most include using the meat to make the stock for the soup, but honestly, if you’re using chicken, save a step by using one of the fine organic chicken stocks available in most groceries.
Molokhia the vegetable is not something you're going to find in most Western groceries, and outside the Middle East and Asia, you’re not going to find it fresh at all. Word on the interwebs though is that frozen molokhia works very well for this soup, and that should be available at any Middle Eastern grocery, and apparently at some Asian groceries as well.
You really can’t substitute spinach or kale or mustard greens or anything similar. The texture of the jute is important.
I’m basing this recipe on the recipe here: http://myhalalkitchen.com/molokhia/ — Yvonne’s recipe is the best I’ve found so far, but I’m putting coriander back into the mix, because it’s in every other recipe I’ve found, and that feels important.
Play around with this - other versions have cinnamon, paprika, dill and cilantro making appearances. I promise I will try when I get back to my kitchen, and I will update this appropriately.
Thanks to Yvonne Maffei (http://myhalalkitchen.com/molokhia/)
We're sticking around Luxor, Egypt, and crossing the Nile to visit the tombs of the New Kingdom pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings. We discuss Tut and Akhenaten. Plus pigeons! Dominic Perry and Lantern Jack stop by again to share their thoughts and tips.