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Yemeni cuisine: how to make shafout

Reham Al-Eryani May 6, 2020
Yemeni cuisine: how to make shafout

Want to learn Yemeni cuisine during lock-down? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

Yemen is a country in the Middle East located at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Yemeni cuisine influence appeared from the 10th century, and hasn’t stopped since.

At that time, the Queen for the Kingdom of Sheba – namely Bilqis – ruled Ma’areb city in Yemen. Her legend story was mentioned in the Quran, the Bible and also features throughout Jewish history.

Happy Arabia

Around that time, the Romans and Greeks called Yemen the Arabian Felix, which translates to ‘Happy Arabia’, due to its fertile land and wealthy resources (including lamb, milk, spices and Arabian oil).

In addition, the strategic location of Yemen allowed for the export of spices, coffee and honey – all evident across Yemeni cuisine today.

Shafout. Image by author.

Getting started: shafout recipe

In Yemen, unlike some other countries, the main meal of the day is lunch.

Our favourite and healthiest Yemeni appetiser for lunch is shafout – a spicy, savoury yogurt salad dish.

It’s made from lahooh (a sourdough flatbread, which can be replaced by pita or regular bread), salad, Greek yogurt and herbs.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2

For the recipe to be easier, faster and tasty at the same time, I am going to replace the lahooh with regular bread. You will need:

  • 3 pieces of regular bread/toast (white or brown)
  • 1 Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup of water

Sahawek mix (sauce):

  • 1 green chili (optional)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 bunch fresh mint
  • pinch of salt


  • cubed cucumber
  • cubed tomatoes
  • lettuce (finely chopped)
  • chopped cilantro and/or parsley (optional)
  • chopped onion (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. olive oil
  • squeeze of lime


1. Blend the sakawek mix in a blender for a few seconds until it’s all mixed (you can add a bit of water if needed to blend properly).

2. Take the sahawek and mix in with the yogurt using a spoon mixer.

3. Add the water to the yogurt and sauce and mix until it reaches a liquid form.

4. Cut the 3 pieces of bread into little squares and dip inside the yogurt sahawek mix.

5. Cut the salad and add to the top.

6. Refrigerate for 15 minutes (optional).

I’d love to see yours! Send in your pictures to [email protected]

If you’re interested in making the lahooh instead of using the bread then feel free to contact me for the ingredients.

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A Freelance Graphic Designer specialised in publications. A Train the trainer certified (TTT) co-trainer and a freelance writer.