Mallow salad (Khobbeizeh bel-zeyt)

February 19, 2012  •  Category:



She was shouting every few seconds “KHOBBEYZEH W ZAATAR!”, walking with a huge sack on both sides of her back; ran after her, told her to hold that thought, that I was a buyer, just had to get my camera.

She did’n’t wait but I was able to catch up with her. Bought 5 bunches of khobbeyzeh. She said she forages in the Chouf mountains in a clean protected area where the landowner trusts her. The greens looked fresh and vibrant. She said: ” What  do you want to take my picture for?”

What is khobbeyzeh anyway?

It is a wild plant, from the same family as hibiscus and mallows (mauve in French). It was consumed for medicinal purposes in the olden days as it was believed to help digestion and to fight sore throats.  It is like dandelion in taste. Eaten in salads in Lebanon with fried onions and a squeeze of lemon. 

By the way, it is from the same family as mallows, from which the original marshmallow used to be made, before it was turned into a corn syrup, sucrose and artificial coloring candy. 

 I am finding out that making candy from mucilaginous plants  goes back centuries  since the Abbassid used to do it in the tenth century in Baghdad.

 This recipe could be applied to any other green, such as chard or kale or dandelion or spinach or beet greens.


  • 3 bunches of khobbeyzeh or swiss chard or dandelion or other greens
  • 4 onions, chopped or sliced in rings
  • olive oil, as needed
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup of golden raisins (not traditional, but it adds a nice touch of sweetness)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • salt, to taste
  1. Pluck the stems off (I used kitchen scissors); place the leaves in a bowl, fill with water and rinse several times to clean it well. Chop the leaves in ribbons ( I did not this time) and place with the water clinging to them in a large pot  and bring to a boil; add the raisins and let simmer a couple of minutes until the leaves wilt and set aside.  If a lot of water remains in the pot, boil it until it evaporates, watching to make sure the leaves don’t burn. 
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the onions; fry the onions till a golden-brown color. Mash the garlic cloves and add to the skillet alongside the greens and raisins. Season with extra salt if needed and about 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice and toss gently to combine. Serve at room temperature with lemon quarters. 


30 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. meriem says:

    Merci pour cette belle découverte Joumana. Passe un très bon dimanche.

  2. Rosa says:

    A lovely story. Those greens look delicious! A great dish.



  3. Jamie says:

    I love the photo – and isn’t it funny that people can wonder why they are unusual or special in any way that would make us want to capture their image on film. Perfect! And I never knew what Mauve or Mallow was! Interesting. And this salad looks so delicious it may just have inspired what I’ll make for lunch. Love the addition of raisins in a dish like this.

  4. T.W. Barritt says:

    I had no idea the “marshmallow” was once plant based.

  5. the indolent cook says:

    Good story! And I like the idea of adding some raisins into the salad for extra sweetness.

  6. Belinda @zomppa says:

    Really? I had no idea marshmallows were…natural once upon a time. How adorable.

  7. Mark Wisecarver says:

    Awesome. I think you my already know that I ferment many old “miracles”, Kombucha, Kefir, Natural yeasts. One thing I really enjoy every day are teasans. These leaves make a “tea” that is wonderful. I blend it with a few rose petals. You must try it. 😉

    • Joumana says:

      @Mark: How interesting! It just so happens that I got some dried rose petals from the roses called “joury” here from which rose water is distilled; still so fragrant! What do you mix your rose petals with?

  8. Asmita says:

    Hi Joumana,
    I love how simple and delicious this dish is. I like the addition of golden raisins. Yummy!!

  9. Angie@Angiesrecipes says:

    Love the greens…this looks lovely with golden raisins.

  10. samir says:

    … great picture!!!!,love this with good dandelion..the raisins are very much a touch of Spain..they do that with spinach/ the dark raisins I believe

  11. Nadji says:

    Des souvenirs qui remontent très loin : nous on l’appelle khoubeyyez. Une différence de prononciation.
    J’appelle mes soeurs pour leur demander si elles se rappellent les recettes que ma mère nous faisait.
    Merci et à très bientôt.

  12. Nuts about food says:

    Love that tidbit of food history.

  13. Oui, Chef says:

    Love the addition of onions and raisins here, and can totally see making this with some local greens like chard or kale. Great photo of the woman bearing her bounty on the street.

  14. Caffettiera says:

    There is such a stunning variety of greens out there, that never make it to the supermarkets. I’ll have to study whether these can be foraged where I live. I had no idea about the origin of marshmallows: I assumed they were a creation of food industry. Really interesting.

  15. Devaki says:

    The zaatar lady has such a beautiful personality. Oh please let me look this good in 20 years! This way of eating veggies is my absolute fave especially with swiss chard – I love throwing in some pine nuts and nutmeg too. Nothing comes close to the taste of leafy veggies with onions and raisins. Oh yum! I am craving this now and its only tea time 🙂

    chow 🙂 Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  16. Mark Wisecarver says:

    Ans: I have a very large assortment of dried teas, tea-sans, flowers, leafs, roots and even certain barks. I’ve been getting dried Rose petals at Earthfare and mix them with a lot of different things, today for example I mixed them with Silver Needle tea, water at 200f for 6 minutes. Delicious. 🙂

  17. dana says:

    Hi, Joumana. Very nice post. Every single house of my relatives in the south grows “khibbayze”. If i recall correctly, it is a blooming plant that produces nice flowers. When i was little, my grandma used to make me tea made with this plant’s leaves to help with kidney pain. I wonder what are the true medicinal values of this plant. Surely, many!

  18. Katie@Cozydelicious says:

    What fun pictures! And such great food history – I never knew where the name marshmallow came from. This salad looks great. I love the combo of slightly bitter greens with slightly sweet fried onions. Yum!

  19. Christine @ Fresh says:

    I’m going to have to try this recipe with swiss chard as I’ve never seen khobbeyzeh. I’m completely intrigued with the plant.

  20. Alaiyo Kiasi says:

    What beautiful, fresh greens, and how neatly she bunched them for customers. I too love the narrative that accompanies this recipe and am thankful, once again, to continue learning from you. I have some fresh bok choy in the fridge. Do you think your recipe would work well with that vegetable? Thanks in advance.

    • Joumana says:

      @Alaiyo: I am not sure, but I would try it!

      @Dana: My grandfather used to eat it to go to the bathroom! It is a flowering plant, that is right!

      @Barbara: It tastes like dandelion to me, a little peppery, but mild

      @George: you’re most welcome!

  21. pierre says:

    top l’histoire de cette vieille femme !!! j’avoue ne pas connaitre la mauve !!!Pierre

  22. Barbara says:

    Fascinating, Joumana. Cooked, it looks rarther like spinach. What does it taste like?

  23. sare says:

    These days in Türkiye we can easily find fresh baby mallow. İt is very beautiful salad, I’d like to try it. The lady with sacks and salad photos are very beautiful.
    I make a mallow dish with chickpeas. At the end of cooking I add some sauce, made with mashed garlic and lemon juice.

  24. George says:

    I’ve cooked it and tastes really amazing. Thanx for the recipe!

  25. CookandEat says:


    “These people” is a portal that facilitate sharing “original” recipes from different users and we have very strict guidelines on copying from others. We are looking into that incident , but I would appreciate if you can point out if you have other content ( as you have indicated ).

    • Joumana says:

      @CookandEat: My name is Joumana. Sorry if I offended you but this is not the first time a reader of my blog pointed to your site with a stolen image or content. I have had this happen to me many times over the years and it does get old. I appreciate very much your prompt response and hope we can put this issue to rest once and for all.

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