Monday, 29 March 2010

Hawaij - Yemenite spice mix


This spice mixture is to Yemenite Jews what Jerk seasoning is to Jamaicans. There are two types of hawaij [pronounced hawai-yedsh]: one used for flavoring coffee and one for soups, stews and as a BBQ rub. Although both are referred to as hawaij, the ingredients vary. The coffee version includes ginger, cinnamon, cardamon and cloves, where as the more savory soup mix includes pepper, cumin, coriander and a few more ingredients.

Supermarkets in Israel have been selling ready made hawaij spice mixtures for a while now. And they have become a store cupboard staple. But I like to think that good hawaij - i.e. the real deal - you can only get at that Yemenite store in Tel Aviv's Carmel Market or you make it yourself at home. This is my home-made version of the savory hawaij for soups and stews.
Ingredients (makes about a cup worth)
  • 6 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
  • 2 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cardamon pods
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
Method
  1. Put all ingredients into a coffee or spice grinder
  2. Grind them to a very fine consistency. The room will probably start smelling very intensely at this point.
  3. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Keeps for weeks, if not months.
Tips 
When using in soups or stews my family always adds turmeric to the hawaij. Count 1 tsp of turmeric for every tablespoon of hawaij. Store-bought hawaij mixtures usually contain the turmeric already but I prefer the flexibility of the basic mixture.





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