About the food of Yemen

Dar al-Hajar, a mansion built in the 1930's as a summer retreat to Imam Yahya, at the place of an ancient settlement. Photo by Antti Salonen.

Dar al-Hajar, a mansion built in the 1930’s as a summer retreat to Imam Yahya, at the place of an ancient settlement. Photo by Antti Salonen.

“Work like an ant and you’ll eat sugar.”
Yemeni Proverb

I can’t decide if the country of Yemen looks like a check mark or a bow tie.  It depends on the map.  Still, every time I thought about how to begin this post, I kept coming back to that check mark – the kind you get when you do a good job on your homework. Probably because Yemen is the third to last country on our list of countries.

Check, check, check.

I can’t. believe. it!

But there is, indeed, more to Yemen than her shape.

This mountainous country is situated on the Persian Gulf,  across  from Africa.  The Yemeni people enjoy ful medames, the breakfast bean dip we sampled for Egypt [recipe], kebab, lentil soups, and lahooh, the leavened “pancake” like bread we enjoyed for Djibouti [recipe].

Shakshouka  [Recipeis another beloved breakfast item in Yemen, which is popular throughout the gulf and north Africa.

Footbridge in Shaharah, Yemen. Photo by Bernard Gagnon.

Footbridge in Shaharah, Yemen. Photo by Bernard Gagnon.

I noticed a lot of yogurt when researching recipes, too, which can be used in drinks or dips. One interesting recipe is called shafout, which is a blend of yogurt, milk, mint, and other herbs which are then poured over the lahooh bread for a healthy summertime meal.

There are many meat and fish stews. They’re generally highly seasoned with a spice blend called hawayij. This Yemini spice mix often features cumin, cardamom, turmeric and other spices.

Kahil, Haraz Mountains, Yemen. Photo by yeowatzup.

Kahil, Haraz Mountains, Yemen. Photo by yeowatzup.

And, speaking of spice, Yemeni food can also be quite “spicy” – as in hot! I noticed most recipes contain green chili peppers, the more the merrier.

After all that heat, it might be nice to cool down with a sweet drink. Yemeni cuisine is known for raisin juice (not, I should add, the same as grape juice) and deliciously spiced coffee (stir in a little ginger powder and a whole lot of sugar next time you brew a pot). Perhaps with a slice of honeyed cake or date balls  [Recipe].

Maps and flag courtesy of the CIA World Factbook.

Maps and flag courtesy of the CIA World Factbook.



  1. That footbridge…never fell…as secure today as when it was built using the human mind and spirit…sans computers…Never ceases to amaze me how arrogant our education system is today…

    What century?

    • Janet Goodell says

      Arrogant? I showed this bridge on the big screen to the JH and HS students in my system today. I told them about keystones, and we all marveled at how this could have been built.

      • Sasha Martin says

        I think you’re saying the same thing… it is a marvelous feat of engineering. The other point mom is making is that, basically, we rely too much on computers – and we trust them (to the point of arrogance), which can cause us to miss glitches we might otherwise detect if working with old fashioned common sense and logic. Hopefully I got that right!

  2. …and heart…how could I neglect the heart…selfless concern for all of creation and how it all fits together as a symbiotic functioning whole.

    Perhaps the diet contributes to enhancing man’s higher faculties…food for thought…building structures that withstand the vicissitudes of time.

    neglecting man’s spiritual nature in the early developmental years can never be repaired in the later educational years….handicapped…not able to access full human potentiality…

      • Janet…you are too funny…I cannot speak for God..(ask a funny question, get a funny answer)

        If you – as am I – are trained in education, you are familiar with developmental stages and how they build on each other. I do not subscribe to Anthroposophy or the Waldorf system of education; however, Rudolf Steiner’s “Education of the Child” has some redemptive insights into the time before the change of teeth. after the change of teeth, puberty and the dignity of all these stages vis-a-vis educational methods. The problem with Steiner was that his thought process was borderline occult – seriously inviting negative/evil energy …He claimed to be Christ-centered, but Faith Hope and Love as well as the blessed Trinity and the Sacraments instituted by Christ [Baptism, Communion, etc] were not truly part of his belief system.

      • aunty eileen says

        Yes JANET.. with God everything is possible. I wondered how this bridge was built. I searched and searched the internet and could find no description of how it was built. Thanks for the word ‘keystones’ but I still can’t imagine it.

        Janet and all readers, I found this short eleven minute video very interesting and I agree this could be true. I think you will enjoy listening and thinking about it: Maybe for your students Janet to think about and discuss? “The secrets hidden in the pyramids of Egypt (Harun Yahya)” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiMMERUpaNY

        • I believe all things are possible etc……does that mean, Eileen, you and I could actually become friends…?

            • aunty eileen says

              For me, ‘simply’ I would define “friends” as: ” someone I know, like, and trust” and someone that would know, like and trust me.

  3. Brian Schwartz says

    I visited Yemen years ago and when you went to some of the smaller towns and villages it was like walking straight into the Arabian Nights. Men wore robes, turbans and daggers. Houses had been built 500 years before and hadn’t changed much since then. It’s no wonder that when Pasolini filmed his amazing movie on the Arabian Nights, he filmed a lot of it in Yemen. I’m not talking about the eastern part of the country, which used to be the British colony of Aden. I’m talking about the mountainous West, which was until about 1970 totally cut off from the modern world. Incidentally, around 450 AD and for the next hundred years, the Kings of Yemen were Jewish… the last Jewish kings in history.

  4. CanadianLibyan says

    Yemen looks like a breathtakingly beautiful country. I can\t wait to see some of its recipes.
    I don’t know if I’d want to cross that pretty little bridge, though!

  5. annaclarice says

    Those buildings remind me gingerbread houses…amazingly beautiful gingerbread houses anyway.

    • Janet Goodell says

      I love them. Would love to stay there for a week or two. I bet the food is Yummmmm, too.

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