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Shared by Viviane Bowell


Yield: 6-8 servingsTime: 30 min + 1 H inactive

Shared by Viviane Bowell

Molokhia lunch spread with bowls of rice, shredded chicken and chopped salad.
Photographer: Armando Rafael. Food Stylist: Judy Haubert. Prop Stylist: Vanessa Vazquez.


Yield: 6-8 servingsTime: 30 min + 1 H inactive

Family Journey

Aleppo, SyriaCairo, EgyptLondon
Bristol, England and Toledo, SpainConstantinople (present-day Istanbul)Cairo, Egypt
LondonBristol, England

“Molokhia is one of Egypt's most famous dishes and derives its name from the leaf which gives it its distinctive taste. It looks like spinach because of its colour, but is nothing like it. Instead, it has a glutinous texture which some people may not like,” Viviane Bowell writes in her cookbook “A Culinary legacy: Recipes from a Sephardi Egyptian kitchen.” In the U.S. and Europe, it is nearly impossible to find fresh molokhia, which is a type of mallow, but frozen varieties are available at Middle Eastern and Turkish groceries. 

Serve this comforting dish with rice or pita alongside a simple tomato and cucumber salad, as Viviane suggests, and read more about her in “The Jam Fridge of Cairo.”


For the soup

2 ¼ lbs bone-in skin-on chicken drumsticks, or a mixture of chicken thighs and legs

2 ½ liters water

2 onions, halved with peel on

2 ½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 400g packs of frozen molokhia (use straight from the freezer)

For the garlic and coriander mixture (ta'aliya)

6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon ground coriander

Soups & StewsMain CoursesMeat North Africa


  • Step 1

    Put the chicken in a large pot, cover with 10 ½ cups water and bring to a boil. Add the onion, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface, until the chicken is tender and the broth is flavorful. Remove the chicken from the pot, cool and shred it into pieces. Set the chicken aside in a bowl. Strain the chicken stock and return it to the same pot.

  • Step 2

    Make the oil, garlic and coriander mixture, known as ta'aliya in Arabic. Heat the oil in the frying pan over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook until lightly browned and add the coriander. Stir and remove from the heat.

  • Step 3

    Just before you are ready to serve, bring the broth to a boil, add 2 packs of frozen molokhia and reduce to a light simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and leave the pot uncovered until the molokhia has completely thawed. Be careful not to boil or stir, as this can result in separation.

  • Step 4

    Add the garlic and coriander mix and stir to combine. If necessary, add some water to achieve the desired consistency and adjust the seasoning to taste.

  • Step 5

    Serve in bowls with rice or pita bread. The bread can be broken into pieces and then used to scoop the molokhia, or it can be added to the bowl of soup and eaten with a spoon.