What is now the Arabian Peninsula republic of Yemen was a center for spice trading in ancient times. To this day, spiced food is the norm there. This week's recipe is a creamy, protein-packed Yemenite Fava Bean Dip.
Yemen is a country where fiery zhug paste is served with virtually every meal and even coffee is spiked with fragrant hawaj, a blend of ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.
The word “hawaj” simply means “mixture,” and it’s also applied to a savory blend used in soups and stews.
Not to be confused with hawaj for coffee, hawaj for soup does include two of the same ingredients: cardamom and cloves. Combining these with turmeric, black pepper (which unlocks turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties), onion and cumin, the soup blend has a flavor profile that enhances chicken soup, meat stews, beans and vegetable dishes.
We like to have both kinds of hawaj on hand — the coffee blend is also nice in hot chocolate and baked goods (like these Banana Nut Muffins) while the soup blend is a frequent go-to for enlivening main dishes. The important thing is to make sure you’re grabbing the right one off your spice shelf! Ginger and cinnamon will make for a very unusual-tasting stew, while nobody wants onion and cumin in their coffee.