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Moroheiya leaves are small to medium in size and ovate to elliptical in shape, averaging 4-15 centimeters in length and 2-5 centimeters in width. The dark green leaves grow in an alternate pattern, are toothed around the perimeter, and taper to a point at the non-stem end. There is also a central spine running through the leaf with 3-5 veins spreading throughout. Moroheiya leaves have a mild, slightly bitter and earthy flavor. When cooked, the consistency of the leaves will become slimy and sticky, similar to that of cooked okra.
Moroheiya leaves are available summer through early fall.
Moroheiya leaves, botanically classified as Corchorus olitorius, grow on an annual herb that can reach up to four meters in height and are members of the Tiliaceae family. Also known as Jew's Mallow, Moroheiga, Mulukhiya, Bush okra, and Egyptian spinach, Moroheiya leaves are a popular culinary item to thicken soups in Africa and the Middle East. In addition to its thickening abilities, Moroheiya is also being made into a powder and used to make highly nutritious vegetarian noodles.
Moroheiya leaves are an excellent source of beta-carotene, protein, vitamin E, vitamin C, calcium, and the flavonoid quercetin. The slimy texture of Moroheiya is a result of mucin which can protect the membranes of the stomach and help prevent indigestion.
Moroheiya leaves are best suited for cooked applications such as boiling and sautéing. Moroheiya leaves are predominately boiled and used as a thickener in soups and stews. They are also used to make nutritious juices. In Japan, they are blanched and used in Ohitashi, which is a vegetable side dish with soy sauce. They can also be used to make tempura, stir-fries, and marinated dishes with ponzu sauce and dried bonito flakes. Moroheiya leaves pair well with spices such as coriander, chili pepper, curry, and masala, aromatics such as garlic, ginger, and onion, meats such as beef, lamb, shrimp, and fish, tomatoes, potatoes, lemons, cowpeas, and sauces such as soy sauce, ponzu, and wasabi. Moroheiya leaves will keep for a couple of days when wrapped in a damp paper towel, placed in a plastic bag, and stored in the refrigerator.
The name, Moroheiya means “royal vegetable” in Arabic because Moroheiya soup was rumored to have healed an ailing king. Additionally, for many years in ancient Egypt, the king was the only person who was allowed to eat Moroheiya. It would eventually become available to the public and was used in many traditional Egyptian dishes including Molokhiya. This dish chops the leaves and boils them with meat and spices. Once the soup mixture has thickened, it is served over rice, with flatbread, and with pickled vegetables. Molokhiya is now considered one of Egypt’s national dishes.
Moroheiya is native to Africa where it has been used since ancient times. Moroheiya was additionally enjoyed throughout the Levantine countries, and Kasuke Imori introduced Moroheiya to Japan in the 1980s. Today Moroheiya leaves can be found at fresh markets in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
Recipes that include Moroheiya Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Echigo Farm||Egyptian Style Moroheiya|
|Taste With The Eyes||Noodle Soup with Shiitake & Moroheiya|