Archive for the ‘Tricks of the trade’ Category

Samboosa 8

In Aden Samboosas (aka samosas) are a must in most households during the month of Ramadan. The first two weeks before Ramadan every household in Aden is making hundreds of these and freezing them. I make them occasionally as my husband and I are not big fans of friend food. You can also bake these, by spraying them with oil and then placing on a baking sheet and baking at 350 degree oven for 10 minutes on each side or until golden brown. But  for the most part they are friend. I used Spring Roll Wrappers that you can really find in any grocery store. If not then make a visit to the Asian grocery stores, and you’ll find them in the freezer section. This is they look like:

Sprint Roll Wrappers

I use two layers of these, as they’re pretty thin.  I cut each into three long rectangular strips like this:

Samboosa 1

I stuffed these with a potato stuffing. Traditionally it is made with ground beef and God Willing I’ll post the recipe for that once I make it. But here’s the recipe for the potato stuffing:  https://yemeniyah.com/2010/08/15/potato-stuffing-for-sambosa/ . You will also need some samboosa glue made from a little flour and water. They’ll help you glue the ends and give them neat ends. Now, once you have all the parts you can start assembling. So, take one of these strips and fold once to form a triangle at the bottom, and then fold again to make a triangular pocket. Then start stuffing:

Samboosa 4

Then continue to fold and glue the end.

Samboosa 6

It’ll turn out to be a perfect triangle.

Samboosa 7

I usually lay these on a tray and then freeze while still on the tray and then when frozen transfer them to ziplock bags. You can deep fry these in vegetable or corn oil until they are golden brown. I like to serve them with slices of lemon.

If you want to make your own wrappers here is the recipe: https://yemeniyah.com/2013/03/11/mutabaq-yemeni/ You will do the same as above, i.e. cut each later into long wide strips. But make sure you just use one layer, not two as with the spring roll wrappers.

Happy Cooking !

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Kuzbara 2 Kuzbara 1

The Farmer’s Market I frequent sells 3 bunches of Cilantro [Kuzbara] for $1 all year round. I end up using 1 or 2 bunches, and the third goes bad and into the trash. What a waste!

I tried cutting up the Cilantro and freezing it in Ziplock bags. I tried stuffing some in ice cube trays and adding a little water/or olive oil and making Cilantro cubes . All of these methods didn’t preserve the flavor I was looking for , or the the texture for my dishes . I simply do not like frozen Cilantro; I want it fresh for garnish, salads, chutneys … So, I tried this and it really works:

Take a jar, fill it with cold water, and use it as a vase for your cilantro. Cover the top with a plastic bag and refrigerate. Change the water at least twice a week. They stay so fresh and firm for at least 7-10 days. I haven’t tried it beyond 10 days–mine are usually gone by then–but I wouldn’t be surprised if you got a few more days out of them. According to a Facebook response to this post, the Cilantro was still usable at 3 weeks.

And the “Cilantro Chronicles” continue . . .

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I visited Yemen Dec. 9th to the 31st of 2012. During my stay in my hometown Aden, my sister and I drove by and stopped at a small store by one of the roads leading to  Seerah –which is a bay area named after a fort called Seerah. It is said that the Portuguese who tried to invade the seaport Aden called it Seerah, and so the name stuck. Whether fact or fiction, the area is now called Seerah. Anyway, we stopped at this small store I was just telling you about  where I used to pass by 15 years ago where this old  man used to weave straw into baskets, Masaref [like this one], small flag  fans, and totes etc. I  secretly promised  that once I went back to Aden for a visit, I would go to this store and buy some of this talented man’s crafts.  Alhamdullilah Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’la gave me the chance to do so. Oftentimes, you secretly wish for something and you think no one knows but in actuality Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala does and grants the wish.I had always been telling my husband that I wanted a Masrafah rather than a dining table–so that’s another wish granted alhamdullilah.

Now what is a Masrafah you ask? It is a mat made of straw that you see a picture of at the beginning of this post. What do Yemenis use it for? Well, they used it for fine Yemeni dining .  Maybe they still probably  use it in rural areas. But in Aden people are now used to either using dining tables and chairs, or  rolls of plastic that they spread on the ground instead of this reusable and environment friendly Masrafah. Maybe it is even hung on the wall as a relic of traditions past. What a pity! How is the Masrafah used? Well, it is laid on the floor, and the dishes cradling the food would be placed on it. Then people would gather around and eat. You don’t need a tablecloth, because the Masrafah comes in different colors and patterns–some of the straws woven in are dyed with bright colors as you can see in this picture:

masrafa 2

And once the meal is  over the Masrafah is dusted, wiped with a damp cloth, and hung up by a straw hook [see pic below] and hung up to dry.

Masrafah 3

This is a small part of my Yemeni tradition that I have longed for while living in the USA. If you are ever in Aden/Yemen pick one up for your home and give this hardworking man  a hand. He had a huge smile on his face when I told him , “I never forgot you in 15 years.” He made dua for me. It was priceless!  Like he continues to craft tradition , I am hoping through this post to perpetuate it among my blog visitors Insha Allah.

* Click here for a bread basket I also bought. 

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Yemeni Bread Basket

*Please click here for details of the story behind  where I bought this basket from during my recent visit to Aden/Yemen. I store bread in this basket.

Breadbasket 1 Breadbasket 2 Breadbasket 3 Breadbasket 4

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Freezing Okra

Oftentimes when I go to the Masjed for Taraweeh or to deliver a Halaqa I come home with a bag of Okra. Seems like everybody in Montgomery/AL has an Okra garden, and hence plenty to share. I cut these up into 3 different ways–circles, match stick, and some I just left as whole but cut out the ends. I will be freezing them insha Allah for upcoming dishes. So insha Allah watch out for those dishes soon.

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While you are browsing some of my recipes you will notice that many of them have this ingredient “Bisbas Ahmar Adani” or red chilly sauce [Adeni style]. Every home in Aden has a bottle of this in the refrigerator. I remember days when I would put open the fridge and realize I have run out, and then run down to the neighbors for a little bit to make lunch for that day. It’s absolutely necessary for Adeni cuisine. Some add garlic to the mix, but I don’t like to do that because some recipes don’t require garlic.  If you can’t buy these dried red chilies from Aden, you can find some at your local grocery store in the Mexican section. You’ll find many kinds, but the kind that Adenis use are these:

Alright, so you will need to first cut off the stem to the chili pepper and get the seeks out. It’s okay if you can’t get all of them out, the rest will add some flavor. Then soak the peppers overnight [if you are in a hurry to use you can boil them until they are soft, but know that you are sacrificing flavor]. Then blend into a fine semi paste like sauce. Make sure you blend well, or else you will have pieces of the chili pepper that will get stuck in your throat–it makes for an uncomfortable experience. Store in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator.

Here’s the process in pictures for you:

Cut them with scissors or leave whole

Soak in water

Soaked overnight

Blend well


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We use these in dishes like the Shurbah in Ramadhan [insha Allah will be posting soon], Zurbiyan, Sayadiyyah, Kabsat Shrimp. It’s nice to have it on hand when you need it rather than having to go through the process of making them every time you need them. This is a way for you to make some in advance and store for later use, especially during the month of Ramadhan when you want to cut down on time spent in the kitchen.

Take some onions and cut them into thin or thick slices, according to taste. Toss them in some flour, and fry them. Let them drain on a paper towel. Let them cool down completely before you store them in a plastic or glass jar.

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