|Map Courtesy of Lonely Planet|
Cuisine in Yemin is different from typical Middle Eastern cooking as it has Ottoman and Turkish influences, as well as Afghan, Moroccan, African and Arabian traditions. Chicken and lamb are the primary source of protein, with fish being eaten in the coastal region. Cheese, butter and dairy are eaten in moderation, but buttermilk, vegetable oil, ghee and clarified butter are used in cooking daily. Spices and seasonings often used include (but are not limited to)anise seed, fennel, ginger, honey, garlic, onions, chilies,rose and orange blossom water, sesame and poppy seeds. Tea and very strong coffee are enjoyed in restaurants and in homes.
I picked a variety of roses from my backyard
All you need to make a still: fire place brick, metal or glass bowl and a large pot with a domed lid
Once water comes to a boil, dump a bunch of ice on the lid. The ice melts and condensation drips down into the bowl.
For the cookies: semolina, powdered sugar, flour, canola oil and pistachios
These delicate cookies are heavenly scented and flavored with rose water and cardamom
Ghraybeh (Shortbread Cookies) Adapted from The Spice House
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour
1 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1 cup clarified butter (ghee), softened or canola oil
2 teaspoons rose water
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup (approximately) shelled pistachios
1/4 teaspoon fine-grained salt
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Mix together the butter, sugar, and rose water until light and creamy. Sift together flours, salt and cardamom and stir into butter mixture until well combined. Chill dough for 30 minutes.
Form dough into grape-sized balls, then shape balls into wreaths, diamonds, "s" shapes, etc. (or leave round). Place a pistachio on each cookie.
Arrange cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 18-20 minutes, until cookies are dry to the touch and just starting to change color. Transfer cookies to a rack and immediately dust heavily with powdered sugar.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
Blanched almond or pine nuts can be used in place of pistachios. Rose Water can be substituted with orange flower water or with whiskey or other flavors.
Homemade Rose Water - Adapted from care2com
Be sure you have a brick and heat-safe stainless steel or glass quart bowl ready before you begin.
2-3 quarts fresh roses or rose petals
Ice cubes or crushed ice
1. In the center of a large pot (the speckled blue canning pots are ideal) with an inverted lid (a rounded lid), place a fireplace brick. On top of the brick place the bowl. Put the roses in the pot; add enough flowers to reach the top of the brick. Pour in just enough water to cover the roses. The water should be just above the top of the brick.
2. Place the lid upside down on the pot. Turn on the stove and bring the water to a rolling boil, then lower heat to a slow steady simmer. As soon as the water begins to boil, toss two or three trays of ice cubes (or a bag of ice) on top of the lid.
3. You’ve now created a home still! As the water boils the steam rises, hits the top of the cold lid, and condenses. As it condenses it flows to the center of the lid and drops into the bowl. Every 20 minutes, quickly lift the lid and take out a tablespoon or two of the rose water. It’s time to stop when you have between a pint and a quart of water that smells and tastes strongly like roses.
© 2010-2012, What's Cooking in Your World? Sarah Commerford/All Rights Reserved