Archive for the ‘Condiments’ Category

Cooked Apple Achar Done

When I was growing up, apples were rare in Yemen. I read about them in books; they were always red, sweet and juicy. They were never crispy, green or tangy. Then when I was five, my father was posted in the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen’s Embassy in England, and that was when I was introduced to the green apple. It was love at first sight. It was my favorite fruit to take to school, and I still clearly remember biting into them. Their tanginess sting my eyes momentarily as tears gush out . I always chose the hard and deep green ones because they were extra tangy. When I came to the states, I fell head over heels in love with caramel green apples. There was a chocolate store at the Mall of America in Minneapolis that used to sell amazing caramel green apples and I would make the 45 minute bus ride just for their sake. Well, the green apple has done it again with this beautiful spicy achar (spicy condiment). I was introduced to it when I visited my friend Lucky. She served it as a condiment during lunch and since then I’ve been wanting to get the recipe. So, Monday July 21st 2014, she opened her kitchen to me and showed me how to make it. I walked home hugging a big jar of it. So, here’s the recipe with pics. We made two batches. But for a single batch you will need:


1) 5 green apples –peeled, cored, and roughly chopped.

Apples peeled and coredApple cut up

2) 1 whole garlic finely minced


3) 1/2 handful of dried red chillies (more or less according to personal taste)


4) 1 and 1/2 tsp of Shan Achar/Pickle Seasoning (this seasoning has black cumin, fenugreek, aniseed, mustard seed, cumin, turmeric, chilly powder, garlic powder, ginger powder, salt and cloves)

Achar Seasoning

5) Salt to taste

6) 1 tsp and a half sugar

7) 1/4 cup of white vinegar

8) 1/4 cup of Mustard Oil

In a frying pan, under medium heat, add the mustard oil and let warm.

Mustard Oil

Then add the garlic and sautee for 2 minutes. Do not burn.

Add Garlic to Oil

Then add the dried chillies and let sautee for another 2 minutes.

Then add bisbas to oil and garlic

Then add the chopped green apple and mix well.

Chopped Apple


After 2 minutes of cooking add the Achar/Pickle seasoning, and the white vinegar.

Chopped Apple Seasoning

Cover and leave on low heat and let soften. About 6-8 minutes. Then uncover and add sugar and salt and taste. Then leave on stove under low heat until all the water has evaporated and only the oil oozes out of the mixture when you make a hold in the middle with a spatula. The consistency should be smooth, a little mushy with small chunks.

Cook Green Apple Achar

This is how it looks when it is done:

Cooked Green Apple 2

Let cool completely before emptying into jars and store in the refrigerator. Serve with rice dishes, as a dip. I also make chicken sandwiches and use this instead of ketchup and mustard. Enjoy !

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I really wanted to learn  how to make real frothy Yemeni Hulbah [fenugreek]. You will need powdered Fenugreek for this. Yallah Bismillah:

1) 2 tblsp of powdered fenugreek

2)  salt to taste

3) juice of one lemon or lime

4) 1/2 tomato [not over-riped]

5) green chilly pepper [amount will depend on how hot/spicy you like it]

6) 1 clove garlic

 7) 2 tbslp of cilantro

Alright first soak the ground fenugreek in water–about 1 cup. Mix, cover and leave aside for 2 hours. The water will float to the surface and the fenugreek will form a paste at the bottom. Pour out the water–away goes the bitterness of the fenugreek with it. Now take it and freeze it for about 5 minutes– we do not want it to freeze but rather get cold. Take it out and using a whisk briskly [or you can use an electric whisk] and it will become nice and frothy. Add the lemon juice and the salt and whisk some more and it will become even more frothier. Leave aside.

Now  in a blender place the tomato, cilantro, green chilly pepper, and garlic and blend. You can add a little lemon if it is proving hard to blend. Now take this mixture and add gradually to the whisked fenugreek and keep on whisking until it is all incorporated. And there is your frothy fenugreek ready to serve as a condiment or as a dip with bread.


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Nothing says Aden like ‘Ushar [lemon pickles smothered in chilly sauce] ! It’s a condiment that we enjoy especially with Zurbiyaan or any rice with sauce for lunch.  I will be updating this post since I am putting it together as I make’Ushar–it’s sitting on my balcony in the hot sun as we speak. So, keep on checking and sharing your experiences making this beautiful condiment. I take advantage of the summer months to make this, but you can make it during winter as well. If you are going to make it in winter, keep the jar indoors in a warm place next to a heater. It will take longer but is still possible. But again the perfect time is summer. This makes a small jar.

You will need for a start :

1) 7 limes [preferably small]

2) 1 tablespoon and a 1/2 of salt

3) 1 tsp of ground turmeric

4) small jar

Wash the limes and let dry completely. Halve or quarter. Then sprinkle the salt all over them, then the turmeric. Make sure they are covered with this mixture–use your hands but make sure they are clean and dry or else it will rot. Then stuff in the jar and put the lid on tight and place in the sun. I put mine out in the balcony. After about a month or so, add some ground chilly paste . Just make sure it is not runny. Make it nice and thick. Add it to the ingredients and leave out for a week or so and then serve as a condiment with all your rice , meat, chicken and fish dishes.

Day 24 [add carrots, green chilly peppers, black seed and vinegar]

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This is usually served as an accompaniment to meals in Yemen in both the northern and southern parts of the country. It’s for those who like a little more spiciness to their food. Some of them take on a reddish color because of extra tomatoes [it’s a ratio thing], but I like  mine greener so I add more cilantro than I do tomatoes. With it we usually serve greens such as arugula, lettuce, green onions, radishes, daikon  usually washed and whole , but if they are too big then cut roughly into 3 bite sizes. You will need:

1) 1 roma tomato [preferably firm or else it will be watery]

2) 3 tbslp of roughly chopped cilantro [eye ball it]

3) one small green chilly pepper [less if you don’t like it spicy]

4) 1 clove garlic

5) salt to taste

6) 1/4 cup lemon juice

Blend all either in a blender for a smooth texture, or a food processor if you like it chunky. Pour into a bowl and serve as as condiment to your main meal.

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Prophet (s.a.w.s.) once said: “If my peopleknew what there is in fenugreek, they would have bought and paid its weight in gold.”

You can’t ever talk about Yemeni food without mentiong Hulba–or fenugreek. It is eaten ALL over Yemen and it is very very healthy, although makes your sweat stink a bit if you eat too much of it. It is reported the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) once said: “If my people knew what there is in fenugreek, they would have bought and paid its weight in gold.”

This is a dip very popular in Yemeni dishes. You will need ground fenugreek for this recipe. Be careful one tblsp of ground fenugreek goes a long way.

Step 1: soak one tblsp of ground fenugreek in water, preferrably over night. Why? It gets rid of the bitterness of the fenugreek and that’s how our mother’s taught us to make it.

Step 2: After you have left it to soak overnight –throw away the water and take the fenugreek paste (yes it has turned into a paste like mixture) and place in a blender.

Step 3: Add one tomato (preferably still a little hard–not ripe and mushy), a clove of garlic, 3 tblsp of cilantro chopped, 1 green chilly (or less if you like), juice of one whole lemon, salt to taste.

Step 4: blend until it is a frothy consistency.

Step 5: Pour into a bowl and serve with bread. If it is too thick, thin with more lemon. Some use vinegar.

Usually in Yemen , women mix this with a special wooden tool for the purpose–but nowadays they  use an electic hand mixer so as to retain the frothiness that the wooden tools lends the fenugreek.

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One of my favorites–I like to sprinkle it on (Adeni Classic Fish Sauce and rice with lentils, see Sanunat Samak .

You will need:

1) a small eggplant–cut first lengthwise and then slice into small 3 cm thick slices

2) Salt to taste

3) 2 tsp of ground cumin

4) 2 tblsp of balsamic vinegar, or white distilled vinegar

5) 4 tblsp of Canola oil for frying–more if dries out. You do want to fry the eggplant pieces, but not deep fry.

Combine eggplant slices, cumin and salt–toss well. In a frying pan add the oil, once it gets warm add the eggplant, salt and cumin mixture. Fry until cooked through and browned. Then add the vinegar, and turn off and serve when it dries out.

It is absolutely delicious. It is one of those things that you want to eat a lot of, but hey its a condiment not an entree!

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