Sugar Konafa كنافة السكر

Have you ever shared a recipe with your mom? How did that go? My mom taught me everything I know when it comes to Yemeni cooking .She cooks with her instinct. She knows the ingredients and mixtures by heart, so everything she cooked was with no measuring! This was perfectly fine for her with Yemeni cooking because she knows it so well.

I asked her to give me the Sugar Konafa recipe but it was a complete puzzle for me as I try as much as I can to go with measurements to get the same result every time.I had to repeat it over and over until (I think , I got a good grasp on how to do it).

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Sugar Konafa is different than the Middle Eastern Konafa that is well known in Lebanon and Egypt and most of Arab countries. It is not stuffed with cheese or cream or nuts or any of that sort. It is simply Konafa layers, Sugar, and butter (or Yemeni smoked ghee), and served warm and right away. Since it’s served with Yemeni Stone dish it helps to maintain it warm for longer time. It totally reminds me with the simple French sugar crepes, where it cannot be eaten cold, or its taste is ruined. Sugar Konafa is the same thing.

This dish comes from  Ibb Region and known in some parts of Taiz and its surrounding, some likes it with Yemeni honey, but where I grew up, we love it just with sugar powder because it is lighter.

The flaky Konafa layers melts with sugar and butter or /ghee in your mouth, always reminds me with great memories around the table and savoring its taste. The mixture of the Konafa is so easy, but its technique is tricky. It’s exactly same ingredients of French crêpes, but needs to be lighter. When I tell people about it, surprisingly, many don’t know anything about it.

What you need for Konafa is the Konafa cup which come with three small opened tubes at the end of the cup. If you don’t have the cup, that’s alright, you can empty a condensed milk can and make three holes at the center of one of its ends, and completely remove the lid of the other end, it will work just fine. Later you fill the cup with Konafa mixture and in circular motion you start making Konafa on your non-stick pan.

This circular motion is 90% of the creativity of this dish. If you can tackle it then you easily mastered Konafa. It took me a while to get it right, but hey, taste is totally worth trying to make it.

 

 

Konafa Ingredients

ingredients

1 cup of Whole milk (room temperature)

1 egg (room temperature)

10 eating spoons of white flour

Pinch of salt (as desired)

Flavoring

Sugar powder or Honey (as desired)

Butter, ghee or smoked Yemeni ghee. (As desired)

-Mix Konafa ingredients in your blender all together for 2- 3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and consistent

-Some Konafa cups or (your home made Konafa cup) in that sense might not get through the mixture as easily. There are many factors that could lead to that, either your cup size or the size of the tubes is not big enough. You need to test it before you start doing Konafa.

Pour some Mixture to the cup, if it was getting out as dot then your mixture is thicker than it should, and therefore the tubes are not getting it out smoothly. So you should add more milk. The mixture should flow quickly and smoothly , like you are running water through it , but be careful to get it super light , then your konafa will fail! As my mom would say, you should trust your gut when you do it, and keep trying, you will then know exactly what it needs.

-After running the test let it sit for 15 mints.

-Prepare the pan, dip in some oil in a kitchen napkin, and wipe the pan with it .let it heat on low temperature. Until it reaches medium heat. You can test the right heat by throwing a drop of the mixture to the pan and see if it dry quickly, then it’s ready.

-Now add the mixture to the cup and move it with your hand to the center of the pan. Quickly get your hand from the center to the side of the pan in along circular motion. This will create circular stripes around the pan. Once you finish them, quickly make circular shapes around the stripes to close your Konafa.

 

-Once you master your first Konafa, make sure the heat is still low, let it slowly dry up ,but make sure it still white in color.

-Remove it when it’s still white, Konafa should be served white and soft .Never brown and crispy.

-If you made your Konafa on a 12 inch pan then this batch is enough to make you around 15 to 20 layers of Konafa .You can freeze the extra if you want for the next time.

-Now warm the Yemeni Stone dish, with butter to melt on it while it slowly heats up.

– Put 5 or 6 Konafa layers, add more butter on top and powder sugar.

 

-Continue this process until you finish those layers.

-Quickly move all the layers upside down, to warm up from the top. Make sure it doesn’t get dark brown, only light golden on its sides.

-Garnish with some sugar powder and serve it right away.

This dish is usually eaten as main dish in Yemen, but it can be served as a dessert or at the end of the meal too.

My husband inspired me to try make a fusion of Yemeni Konafa with different types of western desserts. So perhaps I might do that, and you can try that too, and let me know how it turned out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yemeni Chicken Broth- مرق دجاج

I decided to sneak some parts of Aseed post that is an essential to Yemeni traditional cooking in Ramadan.Its is the broth.  Chicken, or meat broth is used in cooking different soups,cooking rice with it, or with Saltah too.
I felt it needed to be honored with a post on its own .You can use the same ingredients for Meat if you wish , but give it more time to boil and get tender.
Wish you a good appetite!

Ingredients:
1 ½ eating spoon of vegetables oil

1 whole Chicken with bones, cleaned with water and salt, skin and fat removed.

1 whole finely chopped onion

5-6 finely chopped cloves of garlic

1 big sliced potato

1 ½ tea spoon of Cumin

1 tea spoon of Salt,

½ tea spoon on black pepper

3-4 Cardamom seeds

2 cloves

½ stick of cinnamon

4-5 cups of water

1-2 Bay leaves
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Preparation
– First add the oil in your deep pot, heat it, and put the onions, wait until golden

-Follow with garlic and the spices, then the potato.

-Put the chicken pieces and keep moving them in the pot under the heat and follow with water.

-Boil until chicken is tender and potato is soft.

 
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Bint Alsahn (The plate’s daughter) بنت الصحن

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The most popular dish in Yemen, in one word,is Bent Al-Sahn ,or the “beauty of the table” as some would call it.

I contemplated writing on Bint Al-Sahn in the very first articles in YemenKitchen, not because there is nothing else to say beside it super popular and it’s so delicious, but because it is one of the most obvious choices to write about, when it comes to food in Yemen.ts very similar to Boreck in its preparation, only its served plain with no filling,only honey on top.

Bint Al-Sahn is usually served when having guests, or on Friday lunch when the bigger circle of family meet. It’s a dish made of buttery golden layers of thin dough, and honey, and garnished with (­حبة البركة ) )Nigella seed) that’s it.

Bint al-Sahn is simple in its ingredients, its preparation however can be little tricky since you need to make those layers of dough from scratch. Once you master how to open up the layers and place them on top of each other in the dish, everything else is easy.

How this dish did became so irresistible, and held a very unique place in the Yemeni table?!

intro

Serving Rituals

Bint Al-Sahn is classically served in the middle of the lunch, and not towards the end of it, which is surprising for people who are not accustomed with Yemeni food traditions. The more high status your guests are, the more expensive is the honey served with it .To honor the guest the head of the house will pour the honey in circular motion towards the guest side and to the middle of the dish, generously, so he/she won’t feel shy to take more of it.

The guest, of course, knows that the host do that to honor them, so he must always try to stop them from pouring honey more than needed. It’s a delicate­ welcoming and thankful gestures done between the host and the guest to show appreciation and respect.

For me Bint Al-Sahn was always associated with big family weddings that I attended with my mom and siblings. I was a shy kid, and I never enjoyed going to big lunches where the list of guests could go to hundreds. Eating bint Al-Sahn was the only thing that would make me stay patiently in the event, waiting until the gathering is finished and get back home. This kind of events were usually in the house of the event. It’s still a mystery for me how they were able to fit this amount of people in one place. Food would all be laid on the ground on a plastic fabric, with no chairs so they could maximize the space for more people to fit in and eat, more like you are in a picnic trip with few hundreds of people!!:) Of course,2/3 of them are somehow related to you in a way or another,Big Fat Yemeni wedding style.

. Bint Al-Sahn will always be my secret wedding rescuer, what is yours?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sour Fenugreek seed sauce with red raddish (Hilba Hamitha-حلبةحامضة)

 

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One of my favorite appetizers is the Sour Fenugreek Sauce, also name (Hamitha), which means Sour. Fenugreek seed is an essential ingredient for Salta, Which is a main dish, and served sizzling hot. But Hamitha is the opposite, it is usually served in the beginning of the meal, at room temperature, with some white or red raddish to dip into.

This appetizer has great health and dietary benefits, especially after fasting Ramadan for long hours. It’s rich with vitamin A and C, helps with bowl movement, and great for diabetic people since it is a facilitator to insulin secretion and helps lower rate of glucose absorption in the intestines thus controls blood sugar levels (1)

For this vegan, healthy, and delicious appetizer you will need the following:

-2 table spoons of Grounded fenugreek seeds

– Soup bowl filled with water

-3 table spoons of white vinegar

-1/4 tea spoon of salt

-Pinch of sugar (optional)

 

(1) http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/fenugreek-seeds.html.

Sambosa, step by step

Another filling that I used is my favorite feta cheese filling with diced onions,thyme,and cilantro.

Another filling that I used is my favorite feta cheese filling with diced onions,thyme,and cilantro.

Mix all the ingredients and you are ready to rock your Sambosa!

Mix all the ingredients and you are ready to rock your Sambosa!

Ramadan Mobarak 2014

ramadan kareem card

I would like to give all my followers a heartwarming congratulations on Ramadan.

This month is dear and near to my heart for many reasons, one of them is that it reminds me a lot of the old good days when I was a kid growing up in Taiz, Yemen. We had blast in Ramadan, .It was the time to break rules such as eating endless amount of sweets, staying awake late at night until the very first light rays of the next morning, and going school late and leaving early .To give you a closer picture , it’s like a whole month of Christmas on steroids!!

Each year, I take this month as a time to reflect on my life and become more spiritual. I can’t help but also to wish that Yemen, will hopefully find peace and become a better place for its people.

I decided for this month to be posting brief diary on my adventures in the kitchen in Ramadan, some recipes might not necessarily be Yemeni , as much as I love Yemeni food, I totally love to dive into trying new flavors and new recipes.

I will also try to share more of Ramadan stories that are more related to my life back in Yemen, and Jordan,and here in the U.S,just to keep with the cultural theme that I started in this blog, so if you have a memory related to Ramadan, and food , that you would like to share in the Yemenkitchen space feel free to put it down this post or through twitter as well @YemenKitchen.

In the mean time , you can hear my interview with Yemen Peace Project that I did on Ramadan 2013 and learn more about Ramadan rituals.

Ramadan and Eid in Yemen

 I was delighted to be invited to speak on how Yemenis observe the holy month of Ramadan and the holiday of ‘Eid al-Fitr’ on Mafraj Radio. Mafraj Radio is a podcast organized by Will Picard, founder of Yemen Peace Project.
If you are interested in Listening to the Podcast Please, check this link ,my interview starts at 28:57 sec. of the video.

Have a wonderful listening 🙂

 

 

Samak Mafi (Tanoor) /Samak Shaibani

Shaibani Fish
For Seafood lovers, and adventurous foodies, Samak Tanoor is something that you can’t miss when you are visiting Yemen , Which is eating a fresh fish right from the fire oven, famously named Mafi /or Tanoor.
SAMAK SHAIBANI RIGHT OUT OF THE OVEN
It is a specialty that people who live over the seashores of Yemen knows and depend on for eating, but famously people from the village of Shaiban perfected its preparation.
Surprisingly, Shaiban village is not located over Yemen’s 250 km seashores, it’s actually located deeper to the middle part of Yemen, in the western outskirts of Taiz.
Shaiban’s location is considered one of the driest parts of Yemen. Its people are not farmers, but mostly hard workers or self-employed. Most of its youth has migrated to other towns and cities of Yemen to work. Many people from Taiz and its surroundings had major migrations to Aden, the jewel of the crown of Arabia Felix at the times when it was part of British colony until 1967.
It must be one talented immigrant from Shaiban that perfected the fish making, and since then started sending his relatives from village to where he live and teach them his work. Before we all noticed, people of Shaiban held the secret of trade with pride, and every good fish restaurant in Yemen was owned/managed or at least the cook was from Shaiban!
Shaibani’s Restaurants started picking up fame since the mid of nineties, and local restaurants –especially in Sanaa the Capital –started changing the layout of the restaurant to make it more suitable for tourists and middle class families.
A face from the fresh market
So I decided I must go to one of these local treasures here in Taiz,a Shaibani restaurant in the heart of the chaotic Downtown, between the Fresh market and Fish market of Almarkazi area.
The hustle and bustle of the market makes it an interesting place to wander around and negotiate over fish and vegetables prices. Yemeni merchants have so much pride when negotiating; it is usually a delicate dance between the shopper and the seller. What I also noticed they are very friendly and would accept a tip sheepleshly if you offered it but would never ask for it.

Fish Market

Fish Market

Interesting graffitti art

Interesting graffitti art


FRESH MARKET 1

FRESH MARKET 2

FRESH MARKET 3
So many kids and people in the market were noticing my camera as I continued to take photos and kept asking why am taking those photos , and if am sending them to Aljazeera Channel, A major broadcast channel in the middle east?!
This did not surprise me, since it is always a wonder for locals to see some one photographing and documenting their daily lives, that in my eyes is interesting, but for them , its just another day in the market. People where friendly and asked me to take their photos.

Am kind of proud of this shot !:)

Am kind of proud of this shot !:)


DRIED SPICED FISH, A DELICATESSEN and a tradition kept from the old days when that was the only way to eat fish in Taiz.Now with trasportation and fridges people eat fresh fish and only few eat it this way.

DRIED SPICED FISH, A DELICATESSEN and a tradition kept from the old days when that was the only way to eat fish in Taiz.Now with trasportation and fridges people eat fresh fish and only few eat it dried.

I picked a big fat fish that just arrived from Almakhaa –Mocha, المخاthe closest seashore to Taiz-only one hour by car. Previously was famous for its port the Imported Yemeni Coffee to the rest of the world, and from there Mocha Coffee is known to everyone. Another thing that so many people don’t know about Makha, is that it is the main source of fish for its surrounding, and Taiz, and a big chunk of its daily fish produce get imported to Saudia Arabia.
Later on, I brought it to the Shaibani, and the cook assistant brushed its mid-section with a special sauce made of chili , spices and salt , then was inserted into a clay oven that would probably be a dizillion Fahrenheit hot for less than 15- minutes.
Fish was then out and ready for eating; it’s toasty, smoky, juicy, taste and most importantly the lightness of it is so easy on the stomach
Something that I really enjoy about the Yemeni grilling style is that oil or fat is never added on meat. The natural fat in the protein is usually enough to make it healthy, juicy, and succulent. Meals are usually well portioned to make sure everyone get enough of it without having leftovers, as daily fresh food is important in the foodies’ mentality over here.

Meet the chef

AZMAN ALSHAIBANI
When we arrived to the Kitchen, we met Azman Alshaibani , the chef and the one responsible for making the magic happens. A young man in his thirties, who instantly offered his skills in working with entrepreneurs’ abroad. He believes that this idea will make a great success, as there is a big demand for fish made in the oven the way he does it.

THE PRO RASHOOSH ROTATOR!

THE PRO RASHOOSH ROTATOR!-2

RASHOOSH DOUGH
STICKING RASHOOSH BREAD TO THE OVEN

It would be impossible for the Chef to stick the super thin dough on the extremely hot surface of the clay oven without those zigzag marks on the surface, it helps to stick it tightly and not fall in the center of the oven and get burned with fire.

It would be impossible for the Chef to stick the super thin dough on the extremely hot surface of the clay oven without those zigzag marks on the surface, it helps to stick it tightly and not fall in the center of the oven and get burned with fire.

one massive rashoosh bread

Azman and the rest of the crew, eating fish for breakfast.

Azman and the rest of the crew, eating fish for breakfast.

I wasn’t able to give Azman a promise that an entrepreneur somewhere will discover his talent for fish grilling on clay oven , but he was happy enough to make him some business for that day. He was enjoying this big breakfast consisted of fish , Rashoosh bread, and some bisbas chilli dip, when I left with my fish in one hand, and camera in the other,and excited with my photos and the stories that I got from the market.

EID CELEBRATION AND FOOD

Collection of cookies and nuts served with smoked icy water with mistika, candy,juice and and black tea with mint

Collection of cookies and nuts served with smoked icy water with mistika, candy,juice and and black tea with mint

Eid of Ramadan is considered the first three days after the holy month of Ramadan, a holly month where all Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset from eating and drinking.
Eid for countries that adopt Ramadan is the equal of Christmas in western countries.
The festivity and celebration during this time of the year comes with many memories of mine as a child growing up in Yemen.
First, everyone must wear new clothes, and be scrubbing clean. Men /some women, go for Eid morning prayers, and then get back to a large breakfast meal celebrating the first day after a long month of fasting.

Eid this year started beautifully , relatively cooler after a whole night of rain showers on City of Taiz, .We woke up to a foggy misty day!..People here love it specially when its August!

Eid this year started beautifully , relatively cooler after a whole night of rain showers on City of Taiz, .We woke up to a foggy misty day!..People here love it specially when its August!

Usually, the first day of Eid is hard on people to adjust their sleeping hours back to normal night hours after shifting them during Ramadan, and that’s why many likes to start the day with a big cup of Yemeni, spiced, and freshly brewed coffee (Bonn-بُن) and maybe one or two dates.
Kids know that they will not be punished at the night of Eid.My dad remembers, as a child, he used to be extra naughty and less caring for keeping his clothes clean while playing with other kids because he knows that no kid would sleep sad or crying at the night before Eid.
Kids were disciplined at that day by telling them that Eid flys away and refuses to arrive to a city were their kids were not behaving well. You can imagine how kids believe, just like how kids in the west believe of mysterious Santa visiting from the north pole and bromgs with him his precious gifts.
Later on, after breakfast, kids get ready to go with their parents in a series of house visits for family members.
This time of the year is considered very important for families to re-unite, get back in touch, and know each and everyone’s updates on their lives.
Problems or conflicts discussions are delayed for after Eid, and everyone look forward to spend some good time with their families, and to remember their loved ones who passed away by visiting their tombs and inviting their families for lunch and afternoon socializing.
Its very important to bring some money as a gift or as Yemenis call it “Aasb” عسب for women of the family or others with financial needs. A support system that has been around for so long to promote the strength and unity between families, and a way to help and care for others without being labelled as a charity gesture, its simply just an Eid gift.
Kids get their share of money gifts too, it’s also has another name “Oyadaah” عُياده. I remember at this age that I would get all my Oyadah during my visits, but then spend it all over afternoon buying fireworks and candy.

This year,while my visit to my grandfather’s house, I witnessed neighborhood’s kids knocking the doors asking for their Oyadah and some cookies. For none family kids its usually a nominal amount of money.I was surprised how girls are noticing women’s fashion, very different from how I had it in my childhood. Fancy big hairs styles, sparkly dresses, and big accessories. Only then, I realized that I am the one growing older, and I forgot how exciting kids become at this time and competing to be fancy and “cool” as much as they can. I vaguely remember I was nagging and begging my mom to wear high heels like her but I can’t remember if it worked or not.

Neighbor's kids meet up after finishing their visits with their families and start knocking doors asking for their candy and Oyadah :)

Neighbor’s kids meet up after finishing their visits with their families and start knocking doors asking for their candy and Oyadah 🙂


Fancy little princesses

Fancy little princesses


Noticing this moment reminded me, in a weird way, with my first experience of Halloween in the United States. Neighborhod’s kids rang my bell asking for candy, they were wearing cute crazy costumes, and most importantly, all drew huge smiles in their faces when they received there candy bars.
As I was taking those pictures was thinking that this is exactly how every kid in this world should celebrate.
henna motives
My mom used to draw beautiful motives of Henna on my hands, a tradition that is still strong in old neighborhoods of cities of Yemen. This costume is still alive and thriving in most of Yemen urban and rural area,however ,most people now use a ready to make henna tape that you put on your hand and fill in the pattern’s gaps with henna . Henna plant is considered a blessed plant . It is pretty much used for dying hair ,and making henna motives on skin. Its mixture with water is popular to cool down head from heat in hot weather.
Later on we got back our way home, and finished up the celebration with meat in the oven , Fattah meal (that could be eaten with honey or with yogurt and spicey bisbas chilli) and Saltah.
Meat,Fattah,and Saltah, what can I ask more for Eid?

Meat,Fattah,and Saltah, what can I ask more for Eid?


That’s how Yemenis spend Eid , and how family meetings continue during the first three days after Ramadan.

11/9/2013
Note

On that same month, I was delighted to be invited to speak on Ramadan rituals through Mafraj Radio. Mafraj Radio is a podcast organized by Will Picard, founder of Yemen Peace Project.
If you are interested in Listening to the Podcast Please, check this Link.

Aseed or Aseeda عصيد\عصيدة

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Aseed is an absolutely true Yemeni dish .A dish that you could find in the table of rich or poor equally sharing it with pride with their guests without the awkwardness of thinking of giving you an extra plate or spoon to yourself. You simply dig in with your fingers, communally sharing it with the rest. This act is enough to break the ice with people you don’t know in the table, so if you find yourself eating it with others don’t be shy and go for it, or you will find yourself leaving the place hungry. It’s served boiling, and Yemenis are fast eaters because they like their food burning hot!

This reminds me of a story of my husband, who invited an American friend to have lunch with his family in a restaurant, so he joined in, food was served, everyone was enjoying their meal, it wasn’t long until they were asking for the check and leaving. Later, the American friend called my husband and asked him if he offended his family by any way?!

Astonishingly my husband answered:” not at all, infact they like you!”.. And followed Asking with why did he feel this way? So he goes “you guys finished eating and left the restaurant so quickly, I thought I did something wrong!”..My husband went laughing, “Yemenis eat, they don’t dine”!

So that’s one of the cultural things you will learn about Yemeni eating habits , where they spend less time eating, and more time later in the afternoon, socializing while chewing qat or on a cup of Kisher coffee.

In the past however, that was a time spent by tribal nomads traveling for survival in the wilderness. It’s an eligible question to ask how would traveling tribes would make Aseed if they didn’t by the nature of their life style farm and cultivate grains. The truth is, Yemeni tribes realized how harsh it could be to wander in this vast land. With their survival instincts, and some engineering skills they managed to make dams right, and save water. The grand Dam of Mareb,(790 b.c-325 a.d) (1) is the most famous one as it was the nuclear beginning of Sheba’s Kingdom, and led later to its control on merchants routes to Mecca and around the region, it truly established their civilization. Old Yemeni civilization is a result of Bedouin urbanization and their understanding the importance of water. A hierarchal transition from living in the tent was living in mud houses.Thats how Yemeni tribes differentiated themselves from other tribes in the Peninsula. For the first time they became to be known as a state.

Marib_inset3475422-Sabaean_inscriptions_Great_Marib_Dam_YemenMareb20062

That being said, with Mareb’s Dam demolition at 575 a.d (2), Yemeni tribes experienced the biggest migration wave through its history to areas with bigger sources of water. They even reached up to Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Palestine. Yemenis didn’t want to get back to the life of constant traveling from one place to another. Yemeni Tribes found themselves needing to travel long distances across the mountains and in the desert with minimum luggage and Aseed fulfilled that need as a truly minimal dish that needs the least ingredients and fills them up like no other! They just needed one pot, one Wood spoon (Mihwash-محواش)or (Makhdoshمخدش-),Any shortening available, and pinch of salt!… Voila! Moreover, because it’s a heavy meal, it made them full for long hours, which was convenient since they won’t need to make fire for cooking every three hours for snacks!This recipe had varied and evolved in every region depending on what local crops were available.

Having a meal consisting of a cooked Flour and sort of sauce is common in many countries in the world, and not just Yemen,I recently found a recipe for English Dumplings with Stew,although the process of work is very different than Aseed,the recipe’s essence was very similar.

Aseed is also known in the south region of Saudia Arabia, Libya, and Sudan. Countries with tribal heritage knew Aseed as a filling dish, and as a complete meal in one serve. It can be made out of Wheat flour, Corn Flour, Pearl Millet flour-Dokhn ( (دخن, or literally any kind of grounded grain!-I don’t recommend using white flour though as its consistency is not as dense as others and get cold quickly, turning into a plastic textured mix- Its served either as a savory dish with meet/or chicken broth, or with different other dressings such as) Hakieen (حقين which is close to buttermilk but with a deep smokey flavor or as a sweet dish with honey or dates. Either way it is considered as a main dish, as you will notice, Yemenis serve sweet dishes in the middle of the meal, especially on Friday’s lunches and when having guests.

The Middle region of Yemen, for instance adores dairy products, it has a long agricultural tradition as it has the most amount of rain water in the Arabian Peninsula­(2) This abundance of water and the fertile lands of Ibb, Taiz ,beside its relatively close distance from red sea, made Aseed coming from this region very unique. Some recipes are mixed with yogurt and herbs, or exquisite Tamarind sauce. One coming from Old city of Taiz, is even mixed with grounded dried baby fish (Wazef-وزف). Here I will start with a simple recipe for Aseed that is considered a standard recipe, and from there; will follow with more Aseed recipes in the future.

Yemen_Taiz

IBB

Aseed etiquette

Communal foods also have etiquette!

Sharing food from one dish with many people could actually be appalling to some, however, there are manners you can’t break when eating with others or you will be considered a pig that’s spoiling the meal for others so the plate could be all yours!

1-Rule of thumb, index, and middle. Only eat with those three fingers, never with your five, one hand only, not both.

2-Never ever let the food go above the first mark of your fingers, remember the more food goes up that mark; the most probably you will get it in to your mouth.

3-Only eat from your side of the plate. It’s considered polite to get your food only from your side to make sure everyone has a fair share of it.

4 -“Aseed curses the one who follows it with drink.” العصيده تلعن اللي يشرب بعدها

This is a common say you might hear if you tried drinking water while eating Aseed or right after. Try to not drink water or juice with it or directly following to it. As hot or spicy it can get, drinking water will make the grains you had in your stomach go swollen and bigger, bloating your belly and your intestines. A feeling of discomfort may continue up to two hours or more until your stomach is able to fully digest it.

5-You might encounter a burp or two while eating or after, to control the damage, make sure to handle the situation by closing your five fingers of your hand together like a boat shape, and put it closely to your mouth, followed by looking up, making sure to channel the smell upward ,and say “Alhamdulillah “ 🙂

Aseed with Chicken Broth and sour Hilba (Fenugreek)

Aseed Ingredients

This recipe calls for wheat flour, but you can use Corn Flour if you want.

2 ½ cups of wheat Flour

Pinch of Salt

4-5 eating spoon of oil /or butter/or Ghee

2 boiled cups of water on the side

Chicken Broth

1 ½ eating spoon of vegetables oil

1 whole Chicken with bones, cleaned with water and salt, skin and fat removed.

1 whole finely chopped onion

5-6 finely chopped cloves of garlic

1 big sliced potato

1 ½ tea spoon of Cumin

1 tea spoon of Salt,

½ tea spoon on black pepper

3-4 Cardamom seeds

2 cloves

½ stick of cinnamon

4-5 cups of water

1-2 Bay leaves

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First thing first you have to know it is important that Aseed should be served very hot, even more hot than what people can handle, because it gets cold quickly, and it cannot be reheated as any other meal. It gets rubbery in texture, and you end up throwing the rest of leftovers. So make the Aseed later after you finished making the Chicken broth and the sour Hilba.

-Helba powder needs to stay at least 3 hours in water to be ready to be mixed therefore; I prefer to start doing this right away before anything else.

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-Next comes the Chicken broth. First add the oil in your deep pot, heat it, and put the onions, wait until golden

-Follow with garlic and the spices, then the potato.

-Put the chicken pieces and keep moving them in the pot under the heat and follow with water.

-Boil until chicken is tender and potato is soft.

-Now get back to the Hilba, remove the water and start whisking it quickly with a wooden spoon. When it starts to get foamy and white, add the salt, and vinegar. Your Sour Hilba is ready

Sour Hilba

2 eating spoon on Fenugreek seeds powder

Soup plate,half filled with water

Pinch of salt

3-4 eating spoons of white vinegar –as desired.

IMG_1174 1- Hilba Powder to the right, and to the left Hilba soaked in water

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2-Hilba after been wisked,then added vinegar and salt

ASEED

-Here comes the moment of truth with Aseed, make sure you grow some muscles, do some stretching before that workout, you will literally be kneading on fire! 🙂

-Make water into boil, add shortening and salt.

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-Add the flour, and as you keep adding start moving the wooden spoon in circles quickly until it gets thicker and thicker, and harder to your hands.(Becarefull, the mixture may start to pop up some hot bubbles to your face, make sure you don’t get burned. You should be in total control with it.)

-Remove the pot onto the ground to be able to knead strongly, be comfortable to get the right angle while still kneading the Aseed quickly.

-If you find it getting difficult to control the consistency of the Aseed, and it started to have solid particles in your mixture, also called (Baraqit-(براقط, add some boiled water and knead more, DO NOT add cold water as it will harden the Aseed. Nobody likes( Aseeda mibarqataa,meaning Aseed with the solid particlesعصيده مبرقطة ) in their mouth .

-Now it’s finally turning smooth, get it back under low heat, add more boiled water, and let it cook, for 15-18 minutes..

-Again knead your mixture, and add more oil until its smooth.

-If you are serving in a different dish, move the Aseed and drizzle more oil and make the sides soft and smooth-no pressure though :):)

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-Make a well in the center of Aseed and add the chicken broth.

-Serve Aseed, Chicken broth, the sour Hilba on the side,and spicy sahawiq bisbas (spicy tomato base sauce side) together

-Now enjoy a recipe of thousands years of old,right from the comfort of your 21st century Kitchen. 🙂

Sources:

1-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marib_Dam

2-http://archive.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/uu02fe/uu02fe07.htm

http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/19c0dd/