Ramadan Recipes from Nimeh’s Palestinian Kitchen
There is never a hungry stomach in Nimeh’s Kitchen. For my mother, it is not a necessity nor is it a duty to cook, it’s an art. She cooks, we devour – and together we enjoy a perfect time.
To celebrate the first day of the Holy Month of Ramadan, my mother decided to make a popular Middle Eastern dish called molokhia. It takes its name from its main ingredient: a bitter, leafy plant that is also known as Egyptian mallow.
My mother’s recipe for molokhia is really just like me—short, sweet, and straightforward. But before I give you her secret recipe to this mouth-watering dish, let me start by telling you a little about the food dynamics in my household. My mother cooks with ingredients that come fresh from my father’s garden, farm, or a barter from a family member.
Let me give you a little example. In this story, the molokhia leaves were actually given to us by my aunt who lives in Jericho. You see, sometimes we do a trade-off: my mother gives my aunt tomatoes, lettuce, lemon, goat cheese, eggs, or whatever we have available, and my aunt gives us dates, oranges, bananas, or, in this case, molokhia leaves.
My father has a small farm which he takes very seriously. He raises sheep, goats, chickens, and has a garden with a few fruit trees and vegetable plants. I quote my dad when he says, “Sheep are my favorite people!”
The lemon dressing my mother uses to top off her molokhia is not only homemade, but also homegrown. You should know that the lemon used in the dressing came from my grandfather’s generous lemon tree which he planted ages ago in my father’s garden as a housewarming gift for when my father built his home in the early 80s. Yes, you heard right – my father was gifted a lemon tree from his father!
I fill your bellies, and you fill the dish rack.
My mother has a saying that I have been hearing since I can remember: “I fill your bellies, and you fill the dish rack.” Luckily for us, the dish rack recently turned into a dishwasher. While the job of washing the dishes has gotten easier, my appetite for molokhia has only increased throughout the years. I am not just saying this just to say it. My mother, hands down, is the best cook and host that I know. She says, “You are more than welcome to come to my home and eat molokhia, but if you can’t, here is the recipe to make your own molokhia dish.”
Happy Ramadan and warmest wishes to you all – Nimeh’s Kitchen
2 pounds of molokhia Leaves
1 1/2 chicken
3 cups of rice
1 1/2 tablespoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
½ teaspoon of allspice
6 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of dried coriander
Finely chop, rinse and drain molokhia leaves. Cut the chicken into pieces, marinate in lemon and salt for 15 minutes and then rinse off. Put the chicken in a pot and dice 1 onion and 2 cloves of garlic over it. Mix it on the stove for 10 minutes. Pour 3 quarts of water over the chicken and bring it to a boil. Make sure to skim off the fat that rises to the top every few minutes. Mix 1 ½ tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper and ½ teaspoon of allspice in the broth. It takes about 30 minutes for the chicken to get tender. Take the chicken out of the water and put it in a pan, and add pepper, chicken spice, sumac, and smoked paprika. Put it in the oven for 10 minutes until the chicken is crispy. Put the drained molokhia leaves in the chicken broth for 30 minutes. Skim off the fat that rises to the top. Chop up 4 cloves of garlic and place them in a pan with the dried coriander and 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Take this mixture and pour it over the boiling molokhia stew. Let it boil for 10 more minutes and turn off the stove. Make white rice on the side and bon appetit!