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Hawaj: Spice Blends of Yemen

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.

Hawaj soup blend is the classic seasoning for Jewish Yemenite chicken soup and matzoh ball soup. We also love it in mashed potatoes, and this bean dip.

Get the Recipe »» Yemenite Fava Bean Dip