Hawayej Spice Blend

Hawayej Spice BlendHawayej, also spelled Hawaij or Hawayij, is the name given to a variety of Yemeni ground spice mixtures used primarily for soups and coffee. Hawayej is used extensively by Yemenite Jews in Israel and its use has spread more widely into Israeli cuisine as a result.

The basic mixture for soup is also used in stews, curry-style dishes, rice and vegetable dishes, and even as a barbecue rub. It is made from cumin, black pepper, turmeric and cardamom. More elaborate versions may include ground cloves, caraway, nutmeg, saffron, coriander and ground dried onions. The Adeni version is made of cumin, black pepper, cardamom and coriander.

The mixture for coffee is made from aniseed, fennel seeds, ginger and cardamom. Although it is primarily used in brewing coffee, it is also used in desserts, cakes and slow-cooked meat dishes. In Aden, the mixture is made with ginger, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon for black coffee, and when used for tea excludes the ginger.

Yield: Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

⅓ cup caraway seeds (generous 1 ounce)
⅓ cup cumin seeds (about 1 ounce)
⅓ cup coriander seeds (about 1 ounce)
3 tablespoons cardamom seeds (about ½ ounce)
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
3 tablespoons ground turmeric

Directions:

Lightly toast the first six ingredients in a skillet over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Be careful not to let them burn! Pour the toasted seeds and spices into a bowl, and allow them to cool. In batches, place the cooled seeds and spices in a coffee or spice grinder along with the salt and turmeric. Pulse the grinder in long, slow pulses to grind the seeds into a powdery spice mix, stirring inside the grinder periodically to evenly distribute the seeds. It may take a few minutes for the spices to reach the desired powdery texture. Store spice blend in an airtight container in a cool, dry pantry. Note: This can be made 1 month ahead.

Toasting and grinding the whole spices provides a fresher flavor than using pre-ground spices. However, if you already have ground spices and you don’t want to spend more money on whole spices, you may substitute ⅓ the amount of ground spice to 1 whole seed spice.

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Rava Laddu

Rava LadduRava Laddu is a traditional sweet found in Western India. Authentic Rava Laddu is made using Rava (hence the name) which is a wheat husk product. This recipe calls for the use of semolina, as it is more commonly available in North America. This is a popular laddu prepared almost in every household for all the festivals. Rava laddu is a simple and easy recipe but still exotic. This recipe will make about 14 laddus.

Ingredients:

1 cup semolina/rava
⅓ cup coconut powder ᶲ
¼ cup clarified butter or ghee*
¾ cup fine sugar
2 tablespoons crushed cashews ᶲ
1 tablespoon raisins
¼ teaspoon crushed cardamom ᶲ
approx. ¼ cup milk, boiling hot*

Directions:

Heat one tablespoon of clarified butter in a small pan over medium low heat; roast the cashews for about 2 minutes until they are light golden brown. Add raisins and roast for another minute, raisins will be puffed. Turn off the heat and transfer them in a bowl. Set aside.

Heat the remaining clarified butter in a frying pan over low medium heat; add the semolina and roast until it changes the color lightly this should take 6-7 minutes. It is important to stir continuously making sure the semolina roasts evenly. Add the coconut and roast, stirring continually for about 2 more minutes. Add nuts, cardamom, and sugar stir until everything is mixed well. Turn off the heat.

Add about 2 tablespoons of hot milk to the dry ingredients. Mix it well to combine. The mix should be moist add more milk as needed. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.

To form the laddus, press about 1 ½ tablespoons of the mixture between your palms. Add little more milk if you are unable to hold the mixture. Press and squeeze to form a round golf-ball like shape. Let them sit for at least one hour before serving. Laddus can be stored in air tight container for about 10 days.

ᶲ If you can’t find coconut powder, crushed cashews or crushed cardamon, simply grind them in a coffee grinder or food processor. For the coconut, I would suggest using unsweetened coconut flakes.
* To make this recipe non-dairy, simply substitute margarine for the butter/ghee and use soy/almond milk instead of cow milk.

Chai-Spiced Shortbread Cookies

Chai ShortbreadAlthough the flavors here are rich and complex, the recipe is very easy to make. This recipe makes about 45 cookies.

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 ¼ teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds*
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
Leaves from 1 English Breakfast tea bag
1 cup white chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla together in a large bowl with a mixer until smooth. In another bowl, stir together flour, cinnamon, ginger, fennel, cardamom, and tea. Add the flour mixture to butter mixture and beat on low speed until blended. Stir in chocolate chips by hand.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or if you don’t have parchment paper, lightly grease the pans. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of dough into a ball and space them about 1 inch apart on sheets, and then flatten slightly with a floured bottom of a glass. Bake until cookies are light golden on the undersides, about 15 to 18 minutes, switching pan positions halfway through baking. Once you have removed the cookies from the oven, transfer them to racks to cool.

*Grind in a clean coffee grinder or in a mortar. For tips on cleaning your coffee grinder, click here.