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World Travel Guide > Guides > Middle East > Yemen

the fp is food-and-drink

Yemen Food and Drink

Surprisingly for a country whose narcotic leaf-chewing habit actually suppresses appetite, Yemeni cuisine is excellent. As well as dishes familiar across the Middle East such as ful, falafel, lamb, chicken or goat kebab, uniquely Yemeni flavours are on offer and a fair degree of regional variation is manifest across the country. Outside upmarket hotels meals are generally consumed communally, often sitting on the floor, sharing bowls and using crisp, freshly baked flat bread to scoop up choice mouthfuls with ones right hand. Sweet desserts precede tea, with or without milk.

Specialities

Saltah (a mostly vegetable stew topped with foamed fenugreek, served piping hot in an earthenware bowl)
Fahsah (like Saltah but with more meat)
Fassolia (white beans lightly spiced)
Bint as Sahn (‘girl of the plate’, a honeyed bread dessert cooked in the oven)
• Qishr (a light, spicy coffee drink made with the husks of coffee beans)

Things to know

Alcohol is forbidden to Yemenis and its legal sale is limited to a very few hotels. However, foreigners are allowed to import up to two litres of alcoholic beverages and consume these in private.

Tipping

Outside restaurants catering specifically for tourists tipping is not common practice in Yemen. That said, the practice of tipping is becoming more common so if you've received exceptional service an extra 10 – 15% is always welcome.