This is a staple during Ramadan. Very hearty soup, that is a meal in and of itself. In Sana’a they make it sweet and they add milk. But in Aden ours is very different and we make it either plain which we call Shurbah Baydha which literally means “White Soup” or we add a red sauce to it that we make with onions, tomatoes and spices and hence call it Shurbah Hamra meaning “Red Soup”. So here’s the recipe for the plain one. Insha Allah will post the red one, which is not my favorite. This one, on the other hand is very much my favorite in Ramadan and the rest of the year. Let’s start Bismillah. You will need:
1) 1/2 pound of lamb cut into small pieces with bone in [you can also use chicken which will cut down the cooking time]
2) 2 cups of rolled oats [or you can use Old Fashioned Quaker Oats]
3) 3 sticks of cinnamon
4) 1/2 tblsp of peppercorns
5) 1/2 tsp of curry powder
6) 1/2 of a medium onion finely chopped
7) 1 small tomato finely chopped
8) Salt to taste
For garnish: fry some onions in a little oil until golden brown or darker [according to taste] and traditional Yemeni ghee or olive oil.
In a pot add water to cover the meat completely and place under medium high heat [about 4 cups]. Remove the froth that collects on the surface as the meat starts to boil. Then add the peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, curry powder, onion, tomatoes and salt and let boil for about 20 minutes. If the water has evaporated some, add 1 cup or so. Then add the oats and mix well and cover and let boil under medium low heat. I also like to transfer it to the oven and let it slow cook in there at 350 degrees fahrenheit until the meat is tender. If you place it in the oven make sure you check on it every 15 minutes and stir. If it is too thick add some more water. I like mine thick so I add less water to maintain the thick consistency. But in Yemen there are many who like theirs thinner, so they add more water. So it depends on your taste. Once the meat is tender, that means the soup is cooked and ready to serve. Serve hot with the fried onions and a little ghee or olive oil. Note: we don’t add garlic to this soup probably because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever eats onions, garlic or leeks should not approach our mosque, because whatever offends the sons of Adam may offend the angels” (Muslim). And since this soup is eaten in Ramadan particularly, just before Maghreb [sunset prayer], garlic is avoided. The onion on the other hand is totally lost in this soup–you can neither smell it or taste it. You will see for yourselves once you make it insha Allah.
*You can even make this in a pressure cooker as well if you want to cut back on cooking time.