Yemen’s Salta

Salta is a dish that does not, to my knowledge, exist anywhere beyond Yemen.  (Though I’ve heard you can get it in Dearborn, Michigan, a town with a high concentration of Yemeni people.)

Salta is nothing but a fairly simple stew, containing vegetables and bits of meat.  It’s traditionally eaten, not with utensils, but by scooping it out with bits of bread.  It’s a specialty of San’a, the capital … but is available in other parts of the country.  Furthermore – and I have absolutely no idea why this is the case – it’s a traditional lunchtime food.  Salta joints seem only to be open around midday, at which time they are packed with hungry working men.

There are two factors that make salta distinctive.  The stew has a highly unique topping of blended vegetables and fenugreek.  And it is served at extremely high temperature in a stone bowl.

I recently prepared salta for myself.  I knew in advance it would be impossible to replicate the original – but it was close enough.  It was quite good.  Here’s what is looked like.