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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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.

Fateer Bread from mid region of Yemen- Ibb خبز الفطير من وسط اليمن -اب

final look

If you happen to travel by car from Sanaa to Taiz, Ibb will be the highlight of your trip. Once you survive the motion sickness from roads of Somarah ســــ’مارة, and Nakeel Thee-Yaslih نقيل ذي يسلح Mountains the scenery starts to open up into wide lush, green valleys. All organized into combed terrains .This is the green belt of Yemen, the place that historically used to feed people of the Arabian Peninsula.
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Ibb has the second most amount of rain per year after Salalah, Oman. Which makes it number one in Yemen. Most people of Ibb work on agriculture. Crops like Corn, vegetables, and fruits grow fantastically here. People say wonders about the rich soil of Ibb, and it’s cool, sunny weather. Each time I visit Ibb, I get out with a different understanding of it as a place. Ibb is famous for its green valleys, and lush mountains, but since the seventies, it became a big exporter for Yemeni immigrants to the U.S and neighboring countries. Whole villages had migrated and only old women and men were left behind. When I passed by the city this summer I was surprised by its urban growth that changed the town. Eclectic architectural styles are more obvious in the busy part of the city. Houses became bigger, using non local stone. The wealth that came with the waves of returned immigrants made changes in people’s tastes and lifestyles.
Modern Ibb city

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Food in this area is very rich and delicious. Grains, and dairy products are heavily used in the local dishes.Unfortunately, like any place in Yemen. If you want to try an authentic food experience, made to high standards, you have to eat it in a house, not a restaurant. It’s a very different food culture than in the west. Where there is a whole industry behind food cooking and serving.
But that’s why you are here, right? 🙂 To get you some authentic Yemeni recipes, and learn one thing or two about Yemen!
Jibla city

Mosque Courtyard

Mosque Courtyard

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If you ever passed through Ibb, and wanted to explore it more, start with its historical heart, city of Jibla جبلة , where the Tomb of Queen Arwa Al-Sulayhi resides in peace inside her mosque الجامع الكبير.
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Queen Arwa’s Tomb inside her Mosque in Jibla

Queen Arwa’s Tomb inside her Mosque in Jibla

1000 steps

inside the mosque

Jibla minaret

The famouse 1001 prayer's beads of Queen Arwa

Couldn’t believe my eyes , when the Mosque’s manager opened a box and let us hold with our hand an artifact like this !

Beautiful details in much needed restoration

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Queen Arwa is a well-respected historical figure for people of Yemen, her religious status as the head of Ismaili minority in Yemen, and the ruler of Al-sulayhid dynasty gave her fame and power that reached up to India, were there is a bigger community of Ismailis living there. Until today, Ismailis from India and all over the world, pay her tomb a pilgrimage in Jibla every single year.
I became a fan of Queen Arwa as a kid listening to all stories and myths around her, her beauty, and how she outsmarted her enemies with her intelligence. Queen Arwa was an orphan little girl from Al-Sulayhi family. She was fortunate to get education at Al-Sulayhi Palace in Sanaa, she learned politics, poetry, and religious studies. She was famous of building schools and mosques. Today women in Ibb are struggling with issues such as lack of education, and early marriages, yet they still maintain great resilience and strength. When you go to the country side, you notice it’s culturally easier to understand than the city. Women are usually seen unveiled with colorful dresses and wearing hats made of straw or light fabric on top of their heads to protect them from sun. They work hard in collecting the crops, bringing water from nearby streams and yet still carve time to cook and bake meals for their families from scratch using their outdoor clay ovens and few simple stone and clay cookware. I remember them always happy and chatty with visitors, coming from Taiz, we were treated as guests. I can’t remember how many times I got invited by random people for a bite of freshly baked bread served with smoked butter milk.

Some Kids that offered to guide us in our way to The-Sufal ذي سفال, a village in IBB. Kids here are witty, funny, and smart. They take responsibilities in working in the field and helping their families, and probably they would make better conversations with adults than city kids. They were so excited that we offered them a ride in our car and that we were using their expertise in the area to help us reach were we wanted to go. They were also very proud while talking about their lives in the village. We were surprised that they asked us for a ride. If anything it means it’s a very safe area, and locals are friendly with strangers.

Some Kids that offered to guide us in our way to The-Sufal ذي سفال, a village in IBB. Kids here are witty, funny, and smart. They take responsibilities in working in the field and helping their families, and probably they would make better conversations with adults than city kids. They were so excited that we offered them a ride in our car and that we were using their expertise in the area to help us reach were we wanted to go. They were also very proud while talking about their lives in the village. We were surprised that they asked us for a ride. If anything it means it’s a very safe area, and locals are friendly with strangers.

A popular recipe from this area is the Fateer Bread. Almost every family has its own way of doing this homemade healthy bread. It’s usually done with one or a combination of Corn Flour, Pearl Millet flour, Wheat, lentil flour and White flour. What I noticed some people would like to add boiled potatoes within the dough or White cheese for flavor. The plain recipe is fantastic, so you can imagine how great it will be with the extra additions.

Ingredients:
3-4 Cups of water
1 cup of hot water (boiling temperature -keep the water hot)
1 tbl spoon of cooking oil
Pinch of Salt
3-4 cups of Corn flour (depends on the consistency)
2 tbl spoon of yogurt for glazing
– Sprinkle some corn flour on a wide metal dish ready to go into oven.
-Heat the oven to 400 F.
Preparation:
The first steps are similar to making Yemeni Aseed.
-First Bring the water into boil and add the salt and oil.
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-Quickly, add the flour combination and start whisking with a strong wood spoon until the mixture start getting thicker, make sure there are no lumps!
-After 7-8 minutes of kneading on the stove, the dough will get thicker and stronger, keep moving the spoon, and if it dried up add some hot water to the dough or few drops of oil.
-Cover the mixture and let it boil under low heat for 10-15 minutes, then stir it one last time.
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– Remove the mixture from the stove and put it on the dish. It will be very hot, so be careful.
-Quickly put your wood spoon in the hot water and smooth the bread mixture into the dish in circular motion. Make sure all the side of the bread are equal in their thickness. The perfect thickness is around 2 inches.
-Add your favorite garnish, could be potatoes, red pepper, cheese, be creative 
-Put the glazing on top (Milk or 1 egg)
-Now your healthy, all made from scratch bread, is ready to go into the oven.
-Wait for an hour, or until the bread is crispy from the edges, and golden brown from top before you get it out.
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This bread is great with Cheese, hot chili and yogurt, or could be eaten on its own with a cup of tea.
Enjoy!!

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


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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.