Maraq (Yemeni Chicken Soup) with Zhug & Hilbeh Recipe

RECIPIE: Maraq (Yemeni Chicken Soup) with Zhug & Hilbeh

Maraq (Yemeni Chicken Soup)

Serves 6 to 8

As in a pot-au-feu, the broth of this soup is served separately from the meat and vegetables. But unlike the French dish, this Yemenite one is given a brilliant turmeric hue from the spice mixture Hawayij.

6 Whole Chicken legs (about 3‚ lb), drumsticks and thighs split
3 Medium Russet (baking) Potatoes
1 Large Onion, quartered
4 Medium Carrots
1 Bunch Cilantro, tied into a bundle with kitchen string
2 1/2 Tbsp. Hawayij or to taste

Accompaniments: Hilbeh and Zhug

Put chicken and 1 tablespoon salt in a 6- to 8-quart stockpot and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, skimming foam, 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, peel and halve potatoes.  Stir potatoes into broth along with onion, carrots, cilantro, 2‚ tablespoons Hawayij, and enough water to cover if necessary, then simmer, covered, until vegetables are very tender but not falling apart, about 1 hour.  Transfer chicken and vegetables to a platter and keep warm, covered. Discard cilantro and season broth with additional Hawayij and salt.  Serve each bowl of broth with a dollop of Hilbeh and with chicken, vegetables, and Zhug on the side.

Zhug (Yemenite Chile Garlic Sauce)

A homemade staple in the Yemeni household, this hot chile and garlic sauce becomes an ingredient itself—and may very well play a recurring role on your table.

6 oz. Fresh Jalapeño Chiles (about 6 medium), coarsely chopped
12 Garlic Cloves
1/4 Cup Water
1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
10 Black Peppercorns
1/4 Tsp. Cardamom Seeds (from a green cardamom pod)
1 Tsp. Sea Salt

Purée all ingredients in a blender, scraping down side, until smooth.

Hilbeh (Yemeni Fenugreek Condiment)

After soaking for two days, the fenugreek seeds release gelatinous properties that—when beaten—give the Hilbeh a billowy texture as delicate as whipped cream.

2 Tbsp. plus 2 Tsp. Fenugreek Seeds
1/2 Cup Packed Cilantro
1 1/4 Cups very cold Water, divided
1/2 Tsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 1/2 Tsp. Zhug
1/2 Tsp. Sea Salt

Soak fenugreek seeds in water to cover, replacing water every few hours for the first day and then just once or twice a day, at least 2 days total.  Drain fenugreek and blend with cilantro and 1/4 cup cold water in a blender until ground to a foamy pale-green paste, scraping down side if necessary, 1 to 2 minutes (add more water if needed).   Transfer paste to a stand mixer with 1/4 cup cold water and beat at high speed until mixture is doubled and holds soft peaks (like whipped cream), about 10 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup cold water and beat 5 minutes more.  Repeat 2 times.  At low speed, beat in lemon juice, Zhug, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt until just incorporated.