I made molokheya the other day, finally. I had bought a frozen package (I’ve never seen it otherwise, except sitting in piles on the streets of Cairo, which even the organic purists would have to admit is less appetizing than sanitized in a frozen plastic bag) much earlier in the year, but somehow never got around to making it.
Molokheya is the ultimate Egyptian comfort food (actually, I guess it has to compete with kushari and besboussa (another one I made recently) and kunafa). One of our cookbooks reports that this is what the Egyptian peasants came home to eat after working on the pyramids, or what the women took out to the fieldworkers since pharaonic times.
I couldn’t tell you what it’s made of, since no one I’ve ever met has been able to give an English, or even a Latin, name to the vegetable involved. I’ve never seen anyone offer to cook or eat it in a solid form. It is always prepared as a collection of finely chopped green leaves, boiled in water with fried garlic and salt. The result is a gooey green soup, and when you add it to rice, you get a sticky mixture with a fascinating texture, and it tastes perfect – green and a little salty.
[Somehow I doubt that my American readers will grasp the deliciousness of this prospect. Most American guests, when confronted with a bowl of it, are too overwhelmed by the appearance to appreciate the taste. Like I said, gooey soup; and I have no idea what protein makes it gooey and slimey like that.]