Sunday, November 30, 2008

Condiment Intimidation

4 of the Ninth Month 5769

For those of you not familiar with the various condiments available in Israel, here is my condiment guide. Please list any I have forgotten in the comments section.

Hopefully, this will help you to experiment with what is available here, and if you're American, let go of your "ketchup dependency."

You do not have to be intimidated....

Tehinah - ground sesame seed base (see recipe below)
According to the "Humous Blog," Tahini is nothing less than a nutritional pearl. Not only is it a superb source for healthy fat, rich in Omega 3, but it is also rich in Calcium, Iron, Protein, Vitamin A, Thiamine and - very much like hummus - some crucial Amino Acids....
Humous - ground chic pea base (It really is a staple in Israeli homes. My favorite variation is to serve with sauteed mushrooms.)

S'hug (Yemenite) spicy red or green peppers, garlic, cilantro (coriander leaf)

Arissah (Tunisian) spicy red peppers and garlic (to me this tastes a lot different than s'hug, and for some reason gives me heartburn; whereas s'hug doesn't - I have no clue why that is)

Matbuhah (North African) red (and sometimes green) peppers, tomatoes, onion, garlic (Some people consider this to be the MidEastern equivalent to "salsa." I do not. It's much too sweet. Plus, the variety of peppers are different here than in Latin America.)

"Rotev Agvaniot" (sometimes..."Salat Aravi" - Tomato Sauce) - grated tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro (coriander leaf) - It is often served with melawah, a Yemenite, fried, thin and layered piece of dough, and seen on your table in Mizrahi restaurants. (I have no idea where this comes from. I am only bothering to mention it, because I find this be a lot more related to "salsa" or "gespacho" than matbuhah.)

Hilbeh (Yemenite) - ground fenugreek seed base, also found in Indian cuisine, attributed with blood pressure and chlosterol-lowering properties. Some Yemenites boil these seeds in butter, and skim off the foam, claiming that they are skimming off cholesterol and the less desireable fats (definitely an acquired taste, and I've acquired it I put it on falafel and shwarma, a little with salmon and red meat dishes)

Ambah (Iraqi) - pickled mango, ground fenugreek seeds, vinegar, mustard, and tumeric (more clues to the spices route with India - personally I have not acquired a taste for this)

Chopped Parsley - (I am mentioning this because it can be found in Israel; whereas I do remember seeing it in the U. S. I put it on everything from shwarmah to turkey sanwiches. It has the highest level of natural iron, even higher than spinach, and is a good source of other nutrients.)

I was going to post my recipe for making tehinah from scratch, saving money and reducing the intake of preservatives. (One of my friends actually grinds his own sesame seeds. I'm afraid I don't go that far.) But, then I saw that A Mother In Israel recently posted her tehinah recipe.

Why does everyone always seem to beat me to the punch?

Oh, well. I'll post mine anyway....


250g (1 cup) raw tehinah
2 tbsps. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cloves of garlic - finely chopped
juice from 1/2 small lemon
60g (1/4 cup) parsley - finely chopped
up to 250g (1 cup) water


Mix together the first four ingredients.

Next, mix in the lemon juice.

Now, mix in the water, but only a little at a time. Make sure the small amount is mixed in completely before adding any more.

Repeat several more times, until you reach the thickness you prefer.

After a while, you will get to know how water you can mix in at anyone time. Fold in the parsley. Chill overnight so that the flavors blend together.

If the tehinah seems to have thickened overnight, remember there aren't any preservatives nor stabilizers in it when you prepare it from scratch like this. Thus, it can dry out a little in the refrigerator. Don't panic. Just mix in some water, a teaspoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.

After making this several times, you will see how you can vary the ingredients to taste. For example, I prefer to add more parsley than most people.

Tehinah is also used in humous preparation and as the basis for salad dressings. Try a spoonful to thicken Chinese sauces as well. Roasted versions are available, too.


NG said...

This is awesome ... but I've had a difficult time eating hummus as a condiment after I started eating it as a meal (always with spiced ground beef).

Esser Agaroth said...

Thanks. :-}

Yeah, humous IS more than a condiment.

Leora said...

The day my eldest son gives up his "ketchup dependency" in favor of s'hug I'll know he's really grown up. I'm not holding my breath.

To me, the list sounds yummy.

Esser Agaroth said...

I still like ketchup on shnitzel and a french fries. I'm just open to a lot more options now.

I am happy that I can find decent soy sauce here, my personal favorite.

Leah Goodman said...

the "agvaniot" is actually "turki" or Turkish Salad.
and I LOVE amba.

Esser Agaroth said...


Turkish Salad is Turkish Salad. This is just grated tomato. Maybe I didn't describe it well enough.

Turkish Salad is much thicker. This stuff is watery. There are many other differences.

Leah Goodman said...

You mean the stuff you're supposed to put on malawach?

Esser Agaroth said...

Yes. It's not Turkish Salad, I am telling you.

Leah Goodman said...

sorry, that's a whole different salad - raw tomatoes, not cooked.

Esser Agaroth said...

It's cool. No big whoop.


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Esser Agaroth said...

Sorry, Mr. Lewis, I was almost ready to let you push your product hear, since you took the time to make your comment not look so spammy.

However, it doesn't look like your products are certified kosher. Correct me if I am wrong.

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