Instagram Post 8/19/2019
I was stalking the aisles at Brooklyn’s Balady Foods, the redoubtable Middle Eastern market at 7128 5th Ave, in search of goodies for my Little Levant ethnojunket when I stumbled upon this toothachingly sweet trio of blood sugar tolerance tests from Yemen Sweets that turned out to be a little much even for me.
(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)
This one is called Harissa, a word I’ve always associated with North African red chili pepper paste and never with candy. A little research and I learned that the Arabic word harissa (هريسه) means to mash or squash which made some sense. Its main ingredients are sugar, soybean oil, peanuts, flour, cornstarch and sesame seeds (no heat) so, predictably, its dry texture is somewhere along the cookie<–>candy continuum, closer to cookie were it not for the oil. You can readily taste the ground peanuts and sesame seeds along with the intense presence of clove and cardamom.
Similarly flavored, Khalta has a texture along the gummy bear<–>Turkish delight continuum. Seems like khalta (خلطة) means mix, but probably in a different context. Mitigated by plenty of peanuts and strewn with sesame seeds, it was unusual as well.
The most immediately accessible of the three (although TBH the others grew on me eventually) is Labaneyh. This one had a crumbly texture and tasted like a perfumy cross between fudge and white chocolate, no surprise since cacao is listed among the ingredients along with milk, the Arabic word for which is laban (لبن) so that’s logical.
I was unable to ferret out much information about these three sweets despite the manufacturer’s address listed on the packaging which doesn’t seem to relate to much in the real world. Anybody out there know more about these? Your comments are greatly appreciated!