What is saltah?
Saltah is a traditional Yemeni soup that consists of broth with meat and/or vegetables and that is topped with a fenugreek froth called hilbeh.
What is the origin of saltah?
The word saltah is derived from salatah (سلطة) meaning composition of vegetables, known internationally as salad. The term salatah probably arrived in Yemen with the Turkish troops during their many invasions of the country.
Different versions of saltah
There are different versions about the origin of the saltah recipe, but the most common is that it was first created in the idamat (الادامات), a common charitable home during the Ottoman Empire. This soup used to be made with leftover food donated by wealthy families or mosques. These leftovers were mixed and heated in stone pots over fire for a long time.
Although each region has its version, saltah is still considered by many to be the national dish of Yemen.
How to make saltah
The basis of this recipe is a meat broth or soup called maraq, a fenugreek froth called hilbeh and sawahiq or sahowqa (or bisbas), a mixture of tomatoes, peppers, garlic and herbs.
Saltah also often includes rice, potatoes, scrambled eggs or even vegetables like bell pepper and tomatoes. The meats typically used for this soup are lamb and chicken.
Saltah is usually served hot and toward the end of the meal, with Yemeni bread that is used to scoop up the food. The cuisine of Yemen is rich in breads, especially flatbreads such as tawa, tameez, laxoox or lahoh, malooga or malooj, kader, kubaneh, fateer, kudam, rashoosh, oshar, khamira and malawah.
Saltah is cooked in a stone pot called madra or haradha that keeps the stew hot for a long time.
The addition of the egg at the end gives the soup a unique texture, similar to Chinese egg drop soup.
Whether you choose rice, potatoes or lentils to serve with the dish, they should be cooked with the saltah. This traditional yemenite soup can be prepared with lamb or chicken.
Everyone loved this soup at home. Will it be enough to reconcile me with soups for good?
- 1 lb lamb stew , cut into pieces
- 3 cloves garlic , crushed
- ½ onion , chopped
- ½ green hot pepper , chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 eggs , beaten
- 6 tablespoons cooked rice
- A few tablespoons of hulba
- Vegetable oil
- In a pressure cooker, sauté garlic, onion and hot pepper in a little oil until the onion is translucent.
- Add cumin, coriander, turmeric and salt. Add the lamb to the onion mixture. Brown the meat for 5 minutes.
- Add about 5 cups of water to the mixture and lock the pressure cooker. Bring the cooker up to pressure, and reduce heat to low/medium to keep the pressure steady. Cook for about 40 minutes. The meat should be tender and break easily.
Pour the meat stew in a stone pot (haradha) or a cast iron skillet. Add the rice and cook until bubbly. At that time, add the beaten eggs, then a few spoonfuls of whipped hulba and serve hot with Yemeni flat bread or pita.