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Yemenite Fenugreek (Hilbe)


Hilbe, like beer, is an acquired taste. I learned to love it from my mother-in-law, who always has some on her table along with the Skhoog and the grated tomatoes. It is especially tasty as a garnish in a hearty Yemenite soup, but I have learned to have a bowl of Hilbe with just about any meal.

This recipe, oddly enough, cannot be doubled. If you want to make a larger amount of Hilbe, you must use two or more bowls.

Hilbe is a legume. Its English name is Fenugreek. Bet you didn’t know that.

Recent research has confirmed what the Yemenites have always said: that Hilbe lowers blood sugar. It turns out that Hilbe is very rich in soluble fibers and in minerals.

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  • 2 TBS coarsely ground Hilbe
  • water
  • juice of three lemons (in the summer, when lemons are not in season, you can use a good-quality bottled lemon juice without preservatives)
  • a hefty pinch of salt
  • one ripe tomato (this non-traditional addition I learned from my mother-in-law’s Moldavian care-giver, Elvira, who is an excellent Yemenite cook).
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  • 1

    Place the ground Hilbe in a medium bowl and cover with four cups of water. Leave it to soak overnight or during the day for eight hours or so.

  • 2

    Pour the water off, without disturbing the Hilbe. You should drink the water, which is the most potent sugar fighting component, according to the latest research.

  • 3

    Add the lemon juice and salt to the Hilbe and whisk it with a hand whisk for a minute or two until it turns into a frothy, custard-like consistency.

  • 4

    Using a hand grater laid over the bowl, grate the tomato directly into the mixture and give it a few more whisks to mix the tomato in.

Recipe Notes

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A 1/2 cup serving of Hilbe has 18 calories, of which 12 are carbs (almost all fiber)

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