donderdag 8 juli 2010

Recipe: Shay h'aleeb

Shay h’aleeb is a famous cardamom thee with milk that is sooo delicious!

It is a common practice for many Yemeni people to serve this thee in the late afternoon, begin evening. They serve this thee especially when they have visitors.

This is how you make it:

· Thee bag (normal black thee)
· 2 cardamom pits
· Sugar to taste
· Coffee creamer or just milk

Boil water in a thee pot together with the cardamom and sugar. Until the water is boiled and the cardamom is smelled, put in the thee bag. Then pour in the creamer or milk and let it heat.

Ready to be served and it tastes even greater with a piece of cake!

Recipe: fetta 'asal

This type of fetta is a sweet one and can be eaten after lunch as a desert or in the morning as a breakfast.

This is how you make it:

· Flat bread (or any other type of bread, I prefer bread that is dried out, like gaas, flatbread)
· Samn (ghee) or butter
· Milk (a few tablespoons, it depends on how much bread you use)
· Honey

Break the bread up into small pieces and put it in a dish that you can put on the stove, or else a pan, put the stove on medium heat. Put some ghee in it and use your hands or a spoon to mix it all well. Pour in a few tablespoons of milk just enough for the bread to become soft. Don’t put too much milk! Then pour honey on top of the bread mixture. Taste if the bread is sweet enough, if not, put some more honey in it. When the bread is soft and warm, it is ready to be served!

Delicious with a cup of thee!

Recipe: fetta maraq

This is one of my favorite fetta.

As I have mentioned before, the Yemeni people have many types of fetta. This fetta is to be served at lunch as a side dish. It is made from flat bread that Yemeni women bake in a tenour. A tenour is a round oven with a lit on top of it. The bread is not baked in a dish, rather it is pasted on the inside wall of the oven!

Another point I want to make is that this fetta tastes even more delicious when you use biological ghee. Here we have some people who have friends or family living in town close to farms or are themselves farmers. In these farms they make original biological ghee which tastes sooooo delicious. They call this ghee samn al- baladie.

This recipe is sooo delicious!

This is how you make it:

· Yemeni bread (or any other type of bread, I prefer flat bread )
· Samn (ghee) or butter (samn al- baladie is preferred)
· Maraq (just enough to make this fetta moist)

Break the bread up into small pieces and put it in a dish that you can put on the stove, or else a pan, put the stove on medium heat. Put some ghee in it and use your hands or a spoon to mix it all well. Pour in some maraq, just enough for the bread to become soft and moist. When the bread is soft and it is heated well, it is ready to be served.

Serve hot!

What is fatoot

Fatoot are Yemeni dishes that can be served at different ways. I will present a few different ways of fatoot.

Fatoot is plural and singular is called fetta.

Fetta is a dish that is served in a typically Yemeni dish which is called a maqla. A maqla is a original yemeni dish which is a round, deep dish in it is available in various sizes. I think it is made from clay.

Fetta is a dish that is very simple and is made by breaking up flat bread into small pieces and then heated in a maqla.

There are sweet and salty fatoot.

Fetta is also being made if one doesn't know what to cook or if there is not enough food in the house, because fetta is easy and cheap.

This is a picture of fetta tamr, which is fetta with dates. The fetta is served in a maqla.
This fetta is served everyday to the woman in childbed. It is a tasty fetta and easy to make.
You need flat bread, dates (as much as you like), ghee and milk.
Heat in a maqla some ghee and put in the small pieces bread. Mix and then pour in little milk on the bread until it becomes soft and moist. Then put in the dates, broken up into smaller pieces and mix well until heated.

Recipe: Maraq

Maraq is a meat or chicken stock that Yemeni people serve at different ways. They serve it as a soup, or they serve the meat or chicken from maraq with rice, they serve it in a dish called salta (see recipe), in a dish called fatoot (see recipe), with ‘asida (is a kind of polenta), etc.

Maraq is very famous in Sana’a. When people are sick they serve this soup to them. Also this soup is being served to women who just gave birth in order for her to strengthen. These women must drink this soup for 40 days.

I know 2 ways for cooking Maraq. This is the easiest way and the other way I will post in the futur. That one is the most delicious one! But this one taste good too...

This is how you make it:

· 1 onion
· Chicken or meat, about 1 kilo
· Little bit oil
· ½ tbsp peper
· Salt to taste
· 1 tablespoon flour
· Juice of 1 lime

If you use chicken, a normal pan will be used. If meat is being used, it is best to use a pressure cooker.

Cut the onion into small pieces. In a pan fry the meat or chicken in little oil with the sliced onion. Then put salt and pepper and stir well. After the meat is fried on both sides and the color has been changed, pour in enough water. I cannot give you any measure, but I would say a pan ¾ full.

Cook until the meat or chicken is done. If you use meat, I would at least cook it for one full hour, but I even prefer an hour and a half, in order for the meat to be well done and soft. Also make sure you have put enough water in the pressure cooker.

Chicken can be cooked within 45 minutes, maybe even less. After the meat or chicken is done, taste if the soup needs more salt and pepper. Then make from the flour and a little water a paste and pour it into the soup. Cook a few minutes.

Then serve the maraq with lime juice to taste.

Recipe: Sambussa

Sambussa is a snack made of spring roll and minced meat. Sambussa is very popular in Yemen and it is especially served during Ramadan.

This is how you make it (for 60 pieces):
· 1 kg minced meat
· 2 large green onions: leek (or normal onions)
· Salt
· Ground cumin
· Ground coriander
· 1 packet spring roll (40 sheets)
· Little bit flour
· Little bit water

Cut the onions into small pieces and set aside. In a stir-fry pan cook the minced meat without oil or butter until brown and stir whilst cooking. Then add the onions and let it cook until the onions are soft. Drain the excessive fat. Add salt, ground cumin and ground coriander to taste. Then set aside.

Make from the flour and water a paste, you don’t need a lot, maybe 1 or 2 tbsp flour.

Take the spring roll sheets and cut each sheet into 3 strips. The best way to do this is to divide the staple of 40 sheets into 4, so that you’ll get 10 sheets on top of each other and then cut into 3 strips. Take 1 strip and put some flour water mixture at the end of the strip. Then paste another strip on top of the end of the first strip, so that you will get one large strip. Then start folding from below, the right corner to the middle until you will get a triangle. Then fold the lower left corner to the right and you will end up with a small triangle pocket. Put some flour past under need the triangle pocket to paste it. Then fill it with the meat mixture and then fold tight from left, right, left etc, until you are finished. Then paste the corner with the flour mixture.

It is a little bit difficult to explain by writing, but I will try to find a way to photograph it in order to show it to you.

Deep-fry the sambussa in hot oil until golden brown.

Serve with sah’aawak (see recipe).

Recipe: Sah'aawak

Sah’aawak is a hot salsa that is served with rice, used in salta or served as a dip sauce with sambussa (see recipes).

This is how you make it:
· 2 Ripe tomatoes
· 1 Green chili pepper (or red chili pepper)
· 2 Garlic cloves
· Little bit fresh coriander
· Salt

In the blender… ready!

Recipe: Salta

Salta is a very famous dish that is served in a maqla that is a kind of dish. Salta is served with bread and there are various types of Salta. Salta can be made with eggs, potatoes, rice, etc. I will show you probably the most famous one, with maraq.

This is how you make it:
· 2 Tablespoons ground fenugreek
· Enough water
· Sah’aawak (see recipe sah’aawak)
· Maraq (see recipe maraq)

Fill a plastic container with enough water; I would say about half full. Carefully sprinkle in the 2 tablespoons ground fenugreek and set a side for about one hour. Then pour out the water. The fenugreek must be swollen up. With a wooden spoon or a mixer, mix the fenugreek until it looks white, foamy and glossy.
Mix in about 7 tablespoons sah’aawak in the fenugreek. Pour in a dish that can hold heat enough maraq and then put it on the stove on medium low. When it is hot enough and the maraq starts boiling, pour on top of the maraq some tablespoons of the fenugreek mixture. Let it heat for a little while, about 1 minute and then take it of the heat.

Now it is ready to be served!

Serve with bread.

Chased by a herd of bulls!!!

Being chased by a herd of bulls!

One day I was on my way home, walking alone, probably with my mind somewhere else, walking slowly, between houses on a sand road. Until I looked behind me… WHATTT? A herd of Bulls… aaaaaaahhh… quick… run! I tried to walk as fast as I could. “Quick, walk faster!” I was thinking. I tried to reach the houses, so that I could walk at the side of the road. Thank God, I was safe.

The bulls pasted by me, walking slowly, relaxed. Not even thinking about hurting me. At the end of the group, the shepherd.

It is very normal, in the area where I live, to see a herd of bulls passing by or a herd of sheep and goats.

These bulls looked very beautiful. They were grey or light brown and look different from the bulls of Europe. They were not fat and don’t look aggressive, but beautiful natural bulls.

So, Thank God, I was not being chased by Toro!

Daily life in Yemen

Daily life in Yemen

This is how a normal day looks like in Yemen.

In the morning, after daily routine of washing yourself, getting dressed and a breakfast:

For mudhafeen (clerk workers) it is time to go to work till about 2 PM and for kids they go to school till 12:30 PM.

For housewives:

Chores in the house:
· Cleaning up the bedroom
· Pick- up
· Cleaning up the kitchen, washing dishes
· Cooking lunch
· Washing clothes

Yes …, about washing clothes I want to tell you something about it.
The ones who have a washing machine use that of course and the ones, who don’t have it, wash with their hands, which is pretty tough.

But, these washing machines cannot be compared to the washing machines of Europe. The European washing machines you just simply put your laundry in it, put the soap in its proper place, and choose the washing program and your laundry is being washed.

But the washing machines in Yemen work differently. They work like this:

You fill up a bucket with water, put the water in the machine. The machine needs about four times a bucket full, it depends on how many laundry you have. Then you pour in the soap in the water and then put the laundry in it. Then you start the machine and it will wash for only 15 minutes. After 15 minutes you come back and you start it again, and again until you have washed the laundry for the time you want. After that you take the laundry out of the machine and rinse it with your hands in a bucket with clean water. After rinsing you put the laundry in the centrifuge, which works so great that after you are ready and put your laundry to get dry, it will dry up so fast!

Continue housekeeping:

Then of course the normal chores that every housewife has to do which can vary from day to day. One day it’s ironing, the other day folding the laundry, you name it…

Like I have mentioned in the previous article, the lunch is the main meal of the day. Many Yemeni women might stand for a few hours in the kitchen preparing and cooking the lunch. They might bake bread, cook rice, cook meat or chicken, etc.

Yemeni women bake various types of bread, but my favorite one is that one that they stick to the inside walls of the oven. The oven is called a Tenour. It is a round metal oven with a lit on top of it. On the inside walls they stick the bread, and this is how the bread gets cooked. The bread looks big, round, flat and is crispy!

After lunch it is time for rest or it is time for people to come together. For children it is time for snacking and playing. Many kids you see at that time playing in the streets with candy, chocolate or some other kind of snack in their hands that they just have bought in the baqaalah (small store which sells food, housecleaning products, etc).

Before the evening falls, many women prepare shay h’aleeb (cardamom thee with milk, see recipe) and eat something sweet along with it.

Then the women go back home who were out to visit friends or family.

After that it is time for a simple diner. They might eat foul (black bean dish), fasooliyah (white bean dish), tahini or just an omelet.

After that… bedtime!
living in Yemen

dinsdag 6 juli 2010

A Beautiful life in Sana'a, Yemen

A beautiful life in Sana’ a, Yemen

After waiting for three years the moment was finally there… our Hijra (emigration) to Yemen.

We had packed our bags, booked our ticket and gave up our house and then finally the start of an exciting journey to that country that I only knew from stories and some pictures on the internet. Or better said: a new discovery!

At the airport we said goodbye to our love ones and then it was time to check in. The journey started from Europe to Cairo, Egypt and then to Sana'a.

At the airport of Egypt I already saw the beautiful black pearls, Yemeni women dressed in black. Some of them were wearing the Niqaab (face veil) and some of them didn’t.
Most Yemeni men were wearing a Thawb (an Arabic long shirt- like garment for men) and an ‘Imaamah (a kind of turban). Typically Yemeni style! Yemen came closer and closer….
We arrived at 4 AM and took our drive to our new destination. When we arrived at our new house, there seemed to be no electricity, which is very normal in Yemen. Our hosts welcomed us with a few candles lightening the house.
My experience is that the electricity goes off approximately twice a day. During daytime is not a big problem and during the evening, Thank God, we have our candles and flashlights.

Tip number one: if you are thinking about coming to Yemen, make sure you have some big, bright flashlights with you. You might need them!

Our house looks great; it has many bedrooms and a special guest’s section. Many houses, on the outside, have a natural color, a sand color; it just looks exactly adapted to the environment.
And what I really find so beautiful is that Sana’a is encircled by mountains. Almost everywhere you look you see mountains.

Many people here live a simple life. The average income is about 100 Euro’s per month. In the morning till afternoon, most people work, study and the housewives take care of their chores. Then in the late afternoon it is time for women to visit each other and as for the men, they have their jalsa (gathering) whereby they gather in someone's house in a special men or guest section.

The main meal of the day is the lunch. It exists of rice, tabeekh (meat, chicken or a vegetarian dish), maraq (meat or chicken stock), salta (see recipe Salta), sah’aawak (hot salsa) and salad.
See for more… the recipes!
In the beginning I had to get used to the food, but now I Love It!!!

I live here now for 7 months!