How to make Yemeni Fahsa Saltah

Saltah is the national dish of Yemen and is a lunchtime staple in nearly all households, especially in the highlands region of Yemen. The essential ingredient to saltah is Hulba, a whipped fenugreek condiment. Saltah can be made with meat, as in this recipe, or it can be also made vegetarian. This Yemeni dish is truly one-of-a-kind!


1 tbsp. oil 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
Half onion, chopped 
½ green chili pepper, chopped, more or less to taste 
½ tsp cumin 
½ tsp coriander 
¼ tsp turmeric 
3/4 tsp. salt 
1 lb. beef cubes 
5 cups water 
A few tablespoons of prepared Hulba

How to make

Place pressure cooker on medium heat and sauté garlic, onion, and chili pepper in oil until garlic browns and onion is translucent. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt. Clean beef thoroughly and add to onion mixture. Brown the meat for 5 minutes.Add water to the mixture and seal the pressure cooker. Let cook for about 30 minutes on medium heat until meat is tender and breaks apart easily. (NOTE: If a pressure cooker is not available, cook meat in a regular pot for 1 - 2 hours, or until meat is tender and breaks apart)Remove from heat and remove top of the pressure cooker after cooling slightly. Break the meat apart with a fork as shown in video. The consistency of the broth should be similar to a slightly thick soup; if there is not sufficient broth, you may add extra water.Pour the meat stew into a stone cookware and heat until bubbling. Add a few dollops of whipped Hulba and serve piping hot with a side of fresh bread.

Hulba (Fenugreek)


2 tsp. ground fenugreek 
2 tbsp. Bisbas 

How to make

Place ground fenugreek in a small bowl of water and let sit for at least one hour. Drain water. The fengureek should have absorbed water and is now ready to be whipped.Whip the fenugreek by hand or using a mixer. Whip until the color has changed from brown to white and the bitter taste is gone. This should take about 10 minutes beating by hand.Add prepared bisbas to the fenugreek and whip in. Add more or less depending on your taste for spiciness. Serve on top of saltah, fahsa, or as a condiment.

Bisbas, Khudra (Spicy Chili Condiment)


bunch of green chives (green pepper also works) 
1 clove of garlic 
1/4 tsp. cumin seeds 
1/2 tsp. ground coriander 
1-2 green chilis, more or less depending on taste 
1 dried chili 
1/2 tsp. salt 
1 tbsp. water

How to make

Blend all ingredients using an electric blender or by hand using a mortar and pestle. Serve with yogurt, lahooh, or hulba. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Lahoh Sana'ani (FlatBread) 

Lahoh is a sourdough flatbread which is eaten in Yemen Somalia, Djibouti, and Ethiopia. Variations also exist across North Africa. In Yemen, it is very popular in Sanaa and the northern areas. It is a key part of the spicy yogurt dish shafout, which is eaten with salad and zahawig as one of the courses which makeup a typical Yemeni lunch. You can also eat it with ground bisbaas and unsweetened yogurt. It is also delicious just plain!


1 cup water
1/3 cup white flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp yeast
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup white flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast (its not really necessary because your starter should have yeast still living in it, but you can add as a precaution if you think it may have died for some reason)
Extra water if dough is too crumbly
¼ cup white flour
¾ cup water
¾ cup water

How to make

1.      Make a starter by mixing together 1/3 cup white flour, 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tsp. yeast and 1 cup water. Add the water slowly to prevent lumps. Let the starter sit covered, but not sealed, on the counter for 3 days. The second day the starter should be bubbling and yeasty smelling. On the third day all yeast activity should subside and the mixture should smell sour and a brown liquid will be separated on top.  If you do not want to use the mixture on the third day, simply place it in the fridge and feed it with flour and water periodically.

2.      To make the dough, mix together the starter, 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup white flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. yeast. Mix well and knead for 5-10 minutes until dough is soft and pliable. If the dough is too crumbly, add water a tablespoon at a time. Don’t add too much water, it should be similar to a bread dough. You can also substitute part of the corn flour with whole wheat flour, or even other types of flours.

3.      Let the dough rise for 30-40 minutes.

4.      Start to make the sharaba by mixing together ¼ cup white flour and ¾ cup water. Add the water very slowly and mix in between to prevent lumps. Heat on low-medium heat while mixing constantly. The mix will suddenly begin to thicken up. When the water has evaporated and you are left with a paste, it is finished.

5.      Mix the sharaba into the dough. Then add ¾ cup of warm water. Mix well. The batter should be very thin, similar to crepe batter. Cover and let sit for 15-30 minutes, or until tiny bubbles appear.

6.      Preheat your cooking surface on medium. I have found it is best to use a stone cooking surface, such as a pizza stone, bread stone, or unglazed quarry tiles. I simply place the stone on top of a cast iron griddle so the open flame doesn’t crack the stone. You can also try cooking on a metal surface, it should still make lahooh, only with not as nice of a texture.

7.      Oil the cooking surface slightly with a brush or paper towel.

8.      Put some batter into a cup with a spout, or a small tea kettle also works well. Start pouring the batter in a large circle shape, starting from the outside of the pan and make a spiral motion with the batter until you reach the inside.

9.      Cook only on one side until the batter is dry on top and the edges are easy to peel up. On one side the lahooh should be golden brown and smooth and the other should have many tiny holes.

10.  Place breads out on surface to cool down.

11.  Repeat until there is only a ¼ cup batter remaining. Mix the remaining batter with starter ingredients to make another batch for next time.

12.  Serve with bisbas and yogurt or in shafoot.