The most popular dish in Yemen, in one word,is Bent Al-Sahn ,or the “beauty of the table” as some would call it.
I contemplated writing on Bint Al-Sahn in the very first articles in YemenKitchen, not because there is nothing else to say beside it super popular and it’s so delicious, but because it is one of the most obvious choices to write about, when it comes to food in Yemen.ts very similar to Boreck in its preparation, only its served plain with no filling,only honey on top.
Bint Al-Sahn is usually served when having guests, or on Friday lunch when the bigger circle of family meet. It’s a dish made of buttery golden layers of thin dough, and honey, and garnished with (حبة البركة ) )Nigella seed) that’s it.
Bint al-Sahn is simple in its ingredients, its preparation however can be little tricky since you need to make those layers of dough from scratch. Once you master how to open up the layers and place them on top of each other in the dish, everything else is easy.
How this dish did became so irresistible, and held a very unique place in the Yemeni table?!
Bint Al-Sahn is classically served in the middle of the lunch, and not towards the end of it, which is surprising for people who are not accustomed with Yemeni food traditions. The more high status your guests are, the more expensive is the honey served with it .To honor the guest the head of the house will pour the honey in circular motion towards the guest side and to the middle of the dish, generously, so he/she won’t feel shy to take more of it.
The guest, of course, knows that the host do that to honor them, so he must always try to stop them from pouring honey more than needed. It’s a delicate welcoming and thankful gestures done between the host and the guest to show appreciation and respect.
For me Bint Al-Sahn was always associated with big family weddings that I attended with my mom and siblings. I was a shy kid, and I never enjoyed going to big lunches where the list of guests could go to hundreds. Eating bint Al-Sahn was the only thing that would make me stay patiently in the event, waiting until the gathering is finished and get back home. This kind of events were usually in the house of the event. It’s still a mystery for me how they were able to fit this amount of people in one place. Food would all be laid on the ground on a plastic fabric, with no chairs so they could maximize the space for more people to fit in and eat, more like you are in a picnic trip with few hundreds of people!!:) Of course,2/3 of them are somehow related to you in a way or another,Big Fat Yemeni wedding style.