Khobbeizeh: Middle Eastern Greens
Khobbeizeh, or Malva Parviflora, is a wild green that grows throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In Palestinian culture, Khobbeizeh is a food for the common – a green that you can make a cheap, filling, and very healthy meal out of. The season for Khobbeizeh is late fall to early winter, and around this time of the year in Jordan, the markets are full of it. People even go out to large fields outside the city to harvest huge bundles of the wild Khobbeizeh. I’m not sure if you can get it in the US, so I don’t really know how useful this recipe is to people who don’t live in an area where Khobbeizeh grows, buuut because it is such a traditional dish, I definitely wanted to include it in my collection :)
Like spinach or most other greens, Khobbeizeh cooks down to very little, so you need to purchase/obtain it raw in large quantities. There are many, many ways to cook it, and the recipe that I am going to post is a combination of several different variations. Traditionally, the Khobbeizeh leaves are dropped into boiling water, then a traditional whisk-like tool called a Mifrak is used to whisk the leaves rapidly until they start to fall apart. My recipe uses a less traditional and slightly easier method. Although my family doesn’t really make Khobbeizeh that often, it is a very traditional Palestinian dish, and I highly recommend trying it if you like greens in general (or believe in eating them once in a while to feel better about your otherwise-unhealthy diet).
4-5 cups of Khobbeizeh leaves, washed, de-stemmed, and very finely chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2-3 cups of water or stock
1 cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 cup of coriander, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
5-6 tbsp of vegetable or olive oil
1 cup of coarse bulgur OR roasted green wheat (freekeh) OR regular or wholewheat flour
salt& pepper to taste
In a large pot, heat 2-3 tbsp of oil, then add half of the chopped onion. Sautee the onion until tender, then add the chopped Khobbeizeh leaves. Sautee until they wilt and cook down.
Add the water or stock, and stir, letting it come to a boil. Don’t use too much liquid; you want to add just enough to get a very thick, stew-like texture. Add the chopped parsley and coriander.
If using bulgur OR smoked wheat: wash the grains then drain. Soak in hot water for ten minutes, then drain, and add them to the pot of Khobbeizeh.
If using flour: put the flour in a small bowl and gradually sprinkle a couple tablespoons of cold water all over it. Mix it gently with a fork until the flour forms little balls of dough. Sprinkle on more water if needed. Then, add the dough balls to the pot of Khobbeizeh.
Leave the Khobbeizeh to simmer on low heat for a few minutes while you prepare the ‘ad7ah. Remember, ‘ad7ah is basically adding sauteed garlic to whatever you’re cooking to give it an extra layer of flavor. So, in a small frying pan or saucepan, heat the rest of your oil, then add the rest of the chopped onion and the crushed garlic. Fry until golden brown, then pour the whole thing into the pot of Khobbeizeh. Watch out; it can really splatter!
Give the pot of Khobbeizeh a stir, add salt&pepper to taste, and serve with fresh bread, sliced lemons, and green onions on the side. Enjoy!