Citizens, Yemenite Jews (Hebrew: יהודי תימן Yehudei teiman; Arabic: اليهود اليمنيين) are the most ancient extant Jewish community in the world! They all once lived in Yemen, though 99% of them live today in Israel.
This is because between June 1949 and September 1950, the overwhelming majority of Yemen’s Jewish population were secretly transported to Israel in “Operation Magic Carpet“.
While most Yemenite Jews now live in Israel, there are small communities to be found in the United States and elsewhere. Only a handful remain today in Yemen.
Yemenite Jews have a unique religious tradition that marks them out as separate from Ashkenazi, Sephardi and other Jewish groups.
Some of the most delicious food in Israel is Yemenite – this rich, spiced and flavorful soup is served on the Sabbath in Yemenite homes and ranks in that rarefied category! 🙂
This is a unique recipe, spiced with hawaij, a Yemeni spice blend and which is especially wonderful served with the classic Yemenite condiments of Hilbeh (based on fenugreek) and zhoug (a spicy relish that is one of the first recipes ever posted here on TFD)!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
2 pounds boneless short ribs, cut into 2-inch chunks
4 tablespoons schmaltz (preferred) or olive oil
3 tablespoons hawaij (recipe below)
2 onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, halved
1 marrow bone, cut in ½ lengthwise by your butcher
4 large and preferably heirloom tomatoes
1 bunch each cilantro and parsley, tied into a “bouquet garni”
2 ½ quarts beef broth
12 baby Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
½ bunch cilantro, chopped for garnish
The Hirshon Hawaij recipe:
2 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground corriander seed
2 tsp tumeric
5 shelled cardamon seed pods
2 bay leaves, crumbled and stiff central vein discarded
Grind all spices together, reserve extra amount not used for this recipe for another use.
Recipe for hilbeh:
8 tablespoons fenugreek seeds
4 cups water
4 garlic cloves
Juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon of Zhoug (optional but highly recommended) – recipe for the Hirshon Zhoug is here
Put fenugreek seeds in a deep bowl.
Cover with 4 cups of water.
Let stand overnight or at least 4-5 hours.
The fenugreek seeds will absorb a lot of water and swell considerably.
The next day, get rid of the soaking water as it is bitter.
Grind the fenugreek seeds for 1-2 minutes in a food processor.
Add remaining ingredients and blend until reaching a homogeneous texture.
Marak Temani Preparation:
In a large bowl, combine short ribs, 2 tablespoons schmaltz, 2 tablespoons hawaij and salt, mixing well to evenly coat meat. Transfer to a plate and loosely cover with parchment paper. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
Heat remaining schmaltz in a lidded large pot over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Cook short ribs, turning occasionally, until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer meat to a plate and set aside.
Add the meat and the bone marrow into the pot.
Make three deep incisions in the tomatoes (while keeping them whole) so that they can release their flavor in the broth.
Add the tomatoes and cilantro/parsley bundle into the pot.
Cover the ingredients with 2 to 3 quarts of broth until the ingredients are almost fully covered.
Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat to medium.
Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add all remaining ingredients (including remaining tablespoon hawaij) except potatoes.
Reduce heat to low and cover the pot.
Simmer the soup for 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Add potatoes to the broth.
Simmer for another 30-45 minutes until the broth thickens and the meat is tender.
Before serving, remove the tomatoes, marrow bones and cilantro/parsley bundle.
Serve in individual bowls, with both hilbeh and zhoug on the side. Garnish each bowl with chopped fresh cilantro.