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! 🙂
As noted on the excellent blog 196flavors.com:
Marak temani has two main versions, one with chicken and one with beef. The beef version, richer, is the one that has been popularized in Israel. In Yemen, the less wealthy Jewish families, used chicken which was cheaper.
This soup owes its flavor and spiciness to a spice blend typical of this country called hawaij, which has nothing to do with the 50th U.S. state ! This spice blend is used not only in this soup but serves as a basic condiment found in many dishes in this country of the Arabian Peninsula.
There are several recipes for that spice blend also called hawayej or hawayij but the spices common to most recipes include cumin, black peppercorns, cardamom and turmeric.
The soup is already spiced (not too hot) but to make it spicier, most Yemenites add s’hug (pronounce the h in Arabic). This chili pepper based condiment is a bit to Yemen what mustard is in France. There are green pepper and red pepper based versions.
Marak temani 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)!
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