Saturday, 14 February 2015

Tasting Jerusalem #1 – Turmeric

Grilled Fish Skewers with Hawayej
Dee –My first Tasting Jerusalem entry is the February 2015 ingredient, Turmeric.  I’ve often thought that if spices were school children, Turmeric would be the one that’s always tugging the teacher’s sleeve and demanding attention.  It’s strongly coloured, strongly flavoured and dyes everything yellow.  A little goes a long way: Too much of it can ruin a dish.  With this in mind, I had a good long search for a suitable recipe and eventually settled for Grilled Fish Skewers with Hawayej and Parsley (page 226).  The Turmeric is a key ingredient in the Hawayej, which is a spice mix that has its origins in Yemen.
I prepared the full quantity of Hawayej but only used half the quantity of fish, and they were fillets as well which weren’t ideal for skewering but that was all our local shop had.  I mixed up the marinade yesterday and gave the fish about 18 hours in total to marinate, which exceeded the maximum of 12 as stated in the recipe.  I also replaced some of the parsley with coriander as Jay isn’t keen on too much parsley.
Once that was done, the rest of the meal was fairly simple to prepare.  Jay was on frying duty and also took care of the Rice and Orzo (page 103) that we love so much and thought would go well with the fish, while I prepared the Yoghurt with Cucumber (page 299) and a simple salad of finely chopped red onion, quartered miniature plum tomatoes, red wine vinegar and olive oil.
Jay cooked the fish on the skewers but as we suspected, it was a little too thin and delicate to withstand much turning.  It cooked fairly quickly though, and a pleasing mix of crunchiness on the outside with a softer texture was achieved.  We had to de-skewer the fish to serve it, and had some marinade left over, so we cooked it up with a little lemon juice and used it as a nice garnish for the fish, along with some coriander leaves.  Neither of these flourishes were specified in the recipe but they made the fish look better and added to the taste.
The minted yoghurt went nicely with the spicy fish, as did the rice and orzo.  The salad provided a fresh and sharp dimension to the meal, and we added about half a teaspoon of Zhoug (page 301) for an extra kick.
We both loved this meal, with its contrasting textures and flavours, and once the marinade had been sorted out, it was fairly quick and easy to prepare.  Perfect for lunch.
This was a great start, and we are both looking forward to next week’s Taste of Jerusalem.
One final note:  If this write-up was of interest, we are cooking a Yemenite-Jewish meal tomorrow, so look out for the accompanying blog enty."

“Tasting Jerusalem is a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ebury Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to  following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, liking our Facebook Page or joining our Google+ Community and finally checking out all of our groups’ dishes on Pinterest

(Please note: I have listed the UK publisher and have linked to the UK Amazon site.  The US details are provided on the web site)


  1. What a fantastic challenge! Jerusalem is one of my favourite cookbooks, it's so beautifully shot and every recipe I've tried has been great. Fingers crossed you get a chance to try the chocolate babka soon :)

  2. Many thanks for the feedback, and glad you like the book too. Will certainly find space for the chocolate cake :-)

  3. Wonderful first dish - I will be sharing your post. I love your details and extra flourishes. I made this dish when we were featured in the New York times as an extra dish to have just in case I needed it at the photo shoot. It wasn't my favorite dish I've made from the book but the Hawayej is very interesting and both turmeric and Hawayej deserve more experimentation and discussion. And I can't wait to see what your Yemenite meal will be!

    1. Thanks, glad you liked it, and many thanks for sharing it.
      Very curious about the Turmeric Tea. I've never seen it before. What is it like?