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Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Secret Of Hawaj - Yemenite Spice

Sometimes tracking down spices is difficult, especially when they are considered "regional spices" or only part of a very specific culture. Hawaj is one of these spices. It is kind a mixture of some other, mostly not well known spices and outside of certain circles it would be rare to hear of this wonderful spice. In Israel, it is readily available.

Hawaj, has its roots with the Yemenites. Though Wikipedia makes mention of Hawaj in its article on the Cuisine of the Sephardic Jews, I would tend to guess that the person who included Yemenites in an article on Sephardic customs would have to run for his life from a group of Yemenites! The following is the mention from the article above about Hawaj:

Hawaj is a Yemenite spice mixture that comes into two varieties. One, a blend of powdered ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, is added to coffee and baked goods. The other, a blend of turmeric, black pepper, onion, cumin, cardamom and cloves, is added to soup.
This is basically correct. However, Hawaj is one of those spices, where you would have to be totally part of a Yemenite family to get the cook to give up the secret of making fresh Hawaj! Hawaj, goes in a great deal of dishes. From soup (a must in my home), to Cholent or Chamin, and as you can see above even coffee. It does demand a specific type of "taste-bud" to be totally appreciated. But on of the tricks of Hawaj is that it must be freshly made or have been made and kept sealed where it is still fresh. Anything else is just bland and bleh!

So for here I am going to lay out the basic ingredients of Hawaj, which has been mentioned in quite a few posts here at Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen, and sometimes explained as being Cardamom (sometimes also spelled Cardomom). These are the basics, NOT the secret stuff which a good Yemenite Cook will make in the black of the night and put a few good spells over.

These are what you will need. Each image is linked to a corresponding Wikipedia article if you wish mor information on a particular spice:

5 Tablespoons Black Peppercorn

5 Tablespoons Cumin

2 Tablespoons Cardamom Pods

2 Tablespoons Coriander Seeds

2 Teaspoons Turmeric

1 Tablespoons Cloves (***Optional)

O.k. now for the normal list:

  1. 5 Tablespoons Black Peppercorn
  2. 5 Tablespoons Cumin
  3. 2 Tablespoons Cardamom Pods
  4. 2 Tablespoons Coriander Seeds
  5. 2 Teaspoons Turmeric
  6. *1 Tablespoon Cloves (Optional)
Utensils You Need:
  1. Grinder (Coffee-Bean grinder is Perfect or some other grinder) Or a Mortar (hand grinding stick)
Recipe Directions:
  1. Take the Peppercorn, Cumin, Cardamom Pods & Coriander (and cloves if you are using them) and put in the grinder and grind all up.
  2. After grinding now add the Turmeric.
  3. Mix Well.
  4. Put in a sealed jar - make sure it is sealed well!

This is the basics of making & mixing Hawaj. One Star for difficulty. Seriously though, for every Yemenite family you will find a different recipe. And it is a matter of taste-buds. However, I make sure I always have some Hawaj around. And try it in your Meat, Chicken or Veggie Soup. It really is a must!

6 Fire Comments - Click To Post A Comment:

Madge G. Sinclair said...

Oh gosh this looks delicious. The only problem is I don't think there's enough Beano and Mylanta in Kansas City to stop me from exploding.

Amrita said...

Hi Teddy,I am a great fan of yours.
I will make Hawaj. In India we have a similar spice mix called garam masala. We use it for curries and soups stc.

Chava Malka Cooper said...

the ingredients of the hawaj you put in coffee sound like a dutch spice called speculaas, that has cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom and white pepper. i make hawaj with turmeric, cumin and black pepper.

AsterMax said...

Can't wait to try this.
Must point out, however...
You wrote that a mortar is a stirring stick. That would be the pestle. The mortar is the bowl for the pestle to grind against.

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