Hawaij Spice (Spice mix from Yemen)

Cook Eat WorldMiddle EasternHawaij Spice (Spice mix from Yemen)

By Lee Jackson ↣ Published on: October 8, 2021

Hawaij is a spice blend from Yemen. A simple, colourful blend of flavours that impart a fragrant note to many dishes; from soups to stews and meats.

Ground spices combined with turmeric form a yellow spice powder called Hawaij, shown here in a silver bowl with spoon on an Arabic patterned background.

I ate at an amazing Middle Eastern restaurant a few years back and enjoyed one of the most spectacular meals of my life – part of the meal featured a wonderful spiced vegetable dish inspired by the food of Yemen that blew my mind! It used a Hawaij spice mix to transform the vegetables into a masterclass of Middle Eastern flavour. A warming, earthy and sweet combination that is packed with fragrance, colour and flavour. I simply had to learn more about this amazing mix.

What is Hawaij Spice?

Hawaij is a wonderful blend of spices used throughout the Middle East to add flavour to soups, stews, meats and vegetables. In Arabic, Hawaij (and sometimes hawayej or hawayij), is translated as ‘mixture’ and is a simple thing to put together. Spices are roasted and ground to form a yellow mix that has a mild, earthy flavour with a distinct, heady fragrance - it’s the essence of the Middle East.

Originating in Yemen, but also widely enjoyed in Israel, Hawaij comes in a number of combinations that can be used in sweet and savoury dishes. My hawaij recipe is for savoury preparations and features cumin, black pepper, turmeric, coriander, cardamom and cloves. I simply dry roast the spices and then using a spice grinder, grind into a fine powder. You can also grind into a coarse powder or leave whole too.

Why it works

Hawaij spice is the perfect balance of sweet, earthy spice that can enhance so many dishes, from meat, fish to vegetables. A quick and easy spice blend to make at home too. You’ll be sprinkling it over everything, mark my words!

Stuff you'll need

Making Hawaij at home is really easy, and the flavour is far superior to shop bought pre-mixed hawaij. All you’ll need are:

A pan with Black peppercorns, cloves, coriander, cardamom and cumin.

Step by Step

It couldn’t be easier to make this spice mix. All you need is either a spice grinder (lifesaver) or a pestle & mortar and you’ll be able to whip up a batch of Hawaij in no time.

  1. Step 1 - Dry roasting the spices in a frying pan is a great way to ‘reactivate’ the oils in the seeds and bring out the flavour. It’s an essential step.
  2. Step 2 – Grind all the seeds into a fine powder and then stir in the ground turmeric. That’s it!
Ground spices combined with turmeric form a yellow spice powder called Hawaij, shown here in a silver bowl with spoon on an Arabic patterned background.

How to use Hawaij Spice

  • Once you’ve made your spice mix, you can keep it in an airtight container for up to 3 months (or longer, but the flavour will begin to fade a little) I make mine in small quantities and store in a jar, so that it doesn’t ever get too old.

Hawaij spice is versatile, so can be used in a variety of ways – here are a few suggestions of dishes I’ve created recently.

  • As a dry rub for meat, like steak, pork ribs or lamb leg. I’ll rub it generously over the meat and then cook however the meat dictates. I made a slow roasted Hawaij lamb leg recently which cooked for 4 hours turned out amazing.
  • Sprinkled over roasted vegetables. Simply toss into vegetables before roasting with a little oil. It’s fabulous with sweet potatoes, pumpkin and potatoes.
  • As an ingredient for soups or stews. When making a stew or soup, I added a few tsp to the mix and it automatically transforms the flavour. I made a splendid beef stew recently and used a couple of tablespoons of Hawaij. I added a whole kilo of tiny sweet onions too – onion and Hawaij were a combination sensation.
  • A cauliflower head was roasted whole until soft. I then mixed a little Hawaij with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and generously drizzled over the whole cauliflower – a triumph!
  • Mixed into butter with a little minced garlic then rolled and chilled it made for a wonderful spiced butter for vegetables, steaks, fish or just spread on crusty bread.
  • Biscuits/scones were transformed with a spoonful or two of Hawaij to the dry ingredients.

Ready to get started?

This is a no-cook recipe (if you don’t count the dry roasting), so super easy and quick. And I can’t tell you enough just hoe versatile it is as an ingredient. Add it to everything!

Any Questions? (FAQ)

Have a question about Hawaij spice? Let me know in the comments.

What is Hawaij spice made of?

Hawaij spice mix (from Yemen) is made from griding together cumin, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, and cardamom into a fine powder.

What does Hawaij taste like?

Hawaij is a mild, earthy spice with sweet notes and a light peppery aftertaste. It’s fragrant and not spicy.

How do you use Hawaij spice?

It’s a versatile spice that can be used as a rub for meats, a flavour enhancer for soups and stews and so much more.

Ground spices combined with turmeric form a yellow spice powder called Hawaij, shown here in a silver bowl with spoon on an Arabic patterned background.

Hawaij (Spice Mix from Yemen)

Rate this recipe

5 from 5 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Recipe by Lee
Course Condiment, Marinade, Staple
Cuisine Israeli, Middle Eastern, Yemen
Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 8 servings
Calories (per serving) | 14

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a dry frying pan, roast the whole spices for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Remove from the heat and add to a spice grinder or pestle & mortar
  • Grind the spices until a fine powder. Stir in the turmeric.
  • Store in airtight jar for up to 6 months.
  • 2 tsp of the spice mix or less is generally enough for one use.

Notes

Serving suggestions
  • As a dry rub for meat, like steak, pork ribs or lamb leg. I’ll rub it generously over the meat and then cook however the meat dictates. I made a slow roasted Hawaij lamb leg recently which cooked for 4 hours turned out amazing.
  • Sprinkled over roasted vegetables. Simply toss into vegetables before roasting with a little oil. It’s fabulous with sweet potatoes, pumpkin and potatoes.
  • As an ingredient for soups or stews. When making a stew or soup, I added a few tsp to the mix and it automatically transforms the flavour. I made a splendid beef stew recently and used a couple of tablespoons of Hawaij. I added a whole kilo of tiny sweet onions too – onion and Hawaij were a combination sensation.
  • A cauliflower head was roasted whole until soft. I then mixed a little Hawaij with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and generously drizzled over the whole cauliflower – a triumph!
  • Mixed into butter with a little minced garlic then rolled and chilled it made for a wonderful spiced butter for vegetables, steaks, fish or just spread on crusty bread.
  • Biscuits/scones were transformed with a spoonful or two of Hawaij to the dry ingredients.
Storage
  • Keep Hawaij fresh by making in small batches and storing in an airtight jar or tin for 3+ months.

Nutrition

Calories: 14kcal (1%) | Carbohydrates: 3g (1%) | Protein: 1g (2%) | Fat: 1g (2%) | Saturated Fat: 1g (6%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 72mg (2%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 1g (1%) | Vitamin A: 19IU | Vitamin C: 1mg (1%) | Calcium: 24mg (2%) | Iron: 1mg (6%)
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