A serving of Moroccan mallow with preserved lemon

El bakkoula or khoubbiza: Vegetarian Moroccan mallow salad with options


In Morocco, steamed and sautéed mallows with chermoula is seasonal cooked salad or starter which you might get served every single day during the raining season.

Mallow salad
Many people confuse mallow leaves with spinach leaves. While mallow has an interesting note of acidity, the spinach might have a bitter after-taste (ask those who don’t like it).
This salad is seriously healthy and very intestine-friendly especially if you are suffering for constipation because it’s all leaves and fibres. Tried and tested!
Mallow salad will still be called as such even if it has spinach, purslane or chard in it. We actually prefer a salad with mixed leaves rather than have one variety. Whichever mix you go for, the olive oil and chermoula will give these leaves a rich flavour and a life.
Bunches of mallow in a market @ Fez
I have previously posted the standard mallow salad’s recipe in French. Today, I would like to repost it in English for a broader audience but also to talk about the other versions of this salad. But first, meet the other leaves.
Purslane: It’s one of those weeds that grow in gardens without being invited. If you are anywhere in the world where you can’t get hold of mallow leaves but can get purslane, just substitute. Just like mallows, everything in this plant is edible (stalks and leaves).
Purslane, choose the ones with large and abundant leaves 
Chard: all kind of leafy chard will work as a substitute.
Spinach: like I mentioned above, spinach does not make a 100% good substitute but you can mix it with chard or purslane to give it what’s missing. Everyone knows how spinach looks like (that’s to say that I don’t have a picture of spinach in my database).

Mix all these leaves if you can get hold of them or just use one of them is totally up to you. Here is a recipe where you can get started.

Serves 4 -6
Prep: 30 min / Cooking time: 20 + 15 min
  • 500g of leaves and stalks from mallow, purslane, chard, spinach (anything available)
  • 1 cup of coriander and parsley, chopped
  • 3-4 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1-2 tbsps paprika
  • Hot chilli powder to taste
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbsps olive oil + 1tbsp of vegetable oil
  • ½ preserved lemon, use the rind only
  • Green olives or/and purple olives
  • Flakes of dried chilli pepper
Wash leaves and stalks thoroughly in cold water. You might need to repeat and change water a few times to get rid of dirt and soil. Drain.
Roughly chop the herbs. I like to keep the bottom part of the chopped stalks in one side and pile up the rest of the chopped herbs in another.
Transfer the chopped herbs into the top part of a steamer and fill the bottom to 1/3 or 1/2 its volume with boiling water. I like to place the chopped stalks first then top them with the chopped leaves.
The leaves will start withering as they lose their water. Steam for 10 minutes.
While this is happening, make a chermoula mix by crushing garlic, herbs and spices in a pestle and mortar (you can use a small food processor).
Heat half the oil in a frying pan,  fold in the chermoula and stir for a few seconds. Dump in the steamed herbs and stir to distribute the spices evenly.
Saute for a few minutes until all water has evaporated.
Set aside to cool for 10 minutes then addd the remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Stir
Serve cold or at room temperature, garnished with preserved lemons and red or green olive.
This Moroccan leafy salad will keep well in the cold for a few days.
Note: you could use this salad as a stuffing for a steamed chicken.

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