Marag makes the meal

The time-honored stew was not always cooked the way it is today

December 12, 2013 14:06
Photo of beef stew.

beef stew. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

‘Yesh marak?” asks Yakir – Hebrew for “Is there soup?” – when he wants to know whether lunch is ready. That is how his father, Zechariah, used to ask for his daily soup; he pronounced the Hebrew word for soup with a Yemenite accent – “marag.”

The midday meal in the home of Yakir’s parents in Givatayim was often a satisfying soup made of beef or chicken pieces cooked with potato chunks in a rich broth flavored with onions and a little tomato, redolent of cumin, turmeric and black pepper. Sometimes the soup contained cubes of white squash (kishu in Hebrew). For those who wanted a more pungent flavor, there was always the hot pepper-garlic relish, s’hug, on the table. There was bread to dunk in the soup – pita, fresh white or dark bread (lehem lavan or lehem shahor) and occasionally saluf, homemade Yemenite flatbread. Once in a while the soup was accompanied by rice that Yakir’s mother, Rachel, cooked in some of the flavorful broth.


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