To prepare saltah, the following ingredients are needed (“Saltah”):
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- ¼ of a cup of vegetable oil (60-65 ml);
- 450 grams of ground lamb or ground beef;
- 2 medium onions, which should be chopped;
- 4 potatoes; these should be peeled and then diced into cubes;
- 2 tomatoes; these need to be chopped finely;
- 1 teaspoon of salt;
- ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper;
- 5 cups (approximately 1250 ml) of beef broth;
- 2 large eggs, which should be whisked;
- 2 tablespoons of cilantro leaves, which need to be chopped finely;
- 2 tablespoons of hulbah (fenugreek paste);
- 2 tablespoons of zhug.
To prepare the dish, first heat the oil in a three-liter saucepan using the medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the ground meat, as well as chopped onions, and then cook it for nearly 10 minutes; it is necessary to stir it often. Next, add potatoes and tomatoes, as well as salt and pepper. Also, pour in beef broth. Use high heat to bring the dish to the boiling state. When it boils, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover the saucepan with a lid. After this is done, the dish needs to be simmered gently for 1 hour, or until potatoes and meat are cooked appropriately. It is also recommended to check from time to time if additional water is needed; only hot water should be added (“Saltah”).
When potatoes and meat are cooked, add whisked eggs and cilantro to the saucepan, stir, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from heat, and stir in zhug and hulbah.
Zhug is a type of Middle Eastern hot sauce, whereas hulbah is a paste made from fenugreek. They can be bought in Middle Eastern grocery stores (“Saltah”).
Saltah is a national dish of Yemen, which is an Arabic country located on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. This dish is most popular in the northern regions of the country and is very often eaten for lunch. It is also very popular among the dwellers of the city of Sana’a.
There exists a belief according to which this dish is nearly a thousand years old; however, no proofs for this statement are said to have been found so far. The evolution of the dish is also stated to be unknown. It is clear, however, that the dish has been around for at least several hundreds of years, probably in some forms and modifications (“Recipes for Yemini Food”).
The fact that the dish includes ingredients that are quite widespread and not very expensive in Yemen can be taken as evidence that this type of stew should be popular among the middle and lower classes of the country. However, being a traditional dish in Yemen, it appears likely that it might also be often eaten by more affluent members of the society.
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Also, saltah is stated to be popular among khat chewers (“Recipes for Yemini Food”). Khat is a plant that is rather widespread in the Arabian Peninsula; it has several narcotic effects, such as excitement and euphoria, and its use is controlled in some countries of the world; however, in Yemen, it is not legally controlled. Khat chewers especially like eating saltah before using khat, for they claim that saltah gives khat a better taste (“Recipes for Yemini Food”).
“Recipes for Yemini Food.” BP Aden Kids, Web.
“Saltah (Ground Beef or Lamb Stew).” Food, Web.