tortilla mehyawa & egg copyI don’t know if mehyawa (or mahyawa), a fermented fish sauce that has its origins in Iran and is used widely as a spread in the Arabian Gulf, will ever become a global ingredient but it deserves to be. Eaten on its own with bread (usually regag or tannur) or with other ingredients like the fried egg in the picture above, it could be considered an ‘umami bomb’. I can’t remember where I first tasted it but I am pretty sure it was at my wonderful friend, Maryam Abdallah. Maryam is a wonderful cook and the first ever Qatari TV chef. She is married to a Bahraini and gets her mehyawa from Bahrain. According to her and other friends, Bahrain is the place for mehyawa but I got mine from my wonderful friend, Sheikha Bodour al Qasimi, who has been (still is) my saviour whenever I needed to learn about Emirati cuisine. Also when I wrote my piece on camel hump for Lucky Peach when she gave me a whole baby camel! Anyhow, I was having an exchange with her sister Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi about mehyawa on Instagram where I rued the fact that I didn’t bring back any with me from Qatar (Maryam had offered to give me some but I worried about having a bottle of it in my luggage) and Hoor said she would arrange to send me some. Not long after Bodour’s driver was at my door with two huge jars of excellent home-made mehyawa.

mehyawa copyBut I had to wait until I could get together with my lovely Bahraini friend, Shermeen al Shirawi, to try it properly. Mimi (her nickname) said she would show me how to eat it, basically  spread on bread and eaten plain which was a little too strong for me or topped with fried eggs. The Aleppo pepper was my touch. It was good although to be honest it was a little too subtle to come through the mehyawa. A spicy chilli pepper would have worked better. Next time. I experimented with different flat breads. The top picture is a corn tortilla and the one below is roti. With Shermeen, we used a commercial tannur which was fine but not great. I didn’t snap a picture of the pita bread because it was too large for the lone egg and anyway, the egg had broken but that was probably the best bread. However, if I could get regag in London, it is the one I would go for. I am hoping to make my own regag before I move out. If I do, I will post the results here. I will also post the recipe for making mehyawa as soon as Mimi gets one for me!

roti mehyawa & egg 2 copy

There is 17 comments on this post

  • I just want recipe thanks

  • Hello Anissa … really very interesting,,have never tasted it …can you tell me more about the technique and ingredients in making the sauce and the aging ,etc???Is it available in US or London ??

  • This is new to me. The name looks like the Persian word for fish with a suffix that usually means a kind of stew, such as the mastawa of Uzbekistan and the goshtaba of Kashmir.

  • very interesting charles about the name, and interesting that you didn’t know about mehyawa 🙂

  • https://www.instagram.com/p/BKc_ZZdAhtp/ here’s an interesting instagram post out of Kuwait with info on mahyawah…..thought you might like it.

  • From Big Bear California.. Can I have mehyawa recipe plz its one of my favorite in the world…????????god bless you

  • It is NOT Arabian! Purely from southern Iran, wrong to call it Arabian cuisine. Most Arabs still look down at Persians for having it as part of their meals!

  • Where I can buy this fish sauce and United States so order it

  • I am afraid I do not know

  • Hi Annisa,

    I love your blog. As a Filipina who have worked and lived in Bahrain for two years, I had a great experience of the Arabian taste and one of my amazing experience was the real taste of the fish sauce Mehyawa mixed with with cheese as a filling to a fried rolled lebanese bread. The delicious taste is a perfect snacks! Cheese Meyhawa!

  • How I miss mehyawa and the dried fish that is similar to it – like you I only ever got it from friends. One of my favourite things was what we called pink break, due to adding the dried fish powder onto the bread which gave it pink speckles.

  • Interesting. I never had the pink bread but going to Sharjah next week and will ask about it 🙂

  • Where I can buy this fish sauce (mahyawa) in abudhabi

  • I am afraid I don’t know but you can try asking at the fish market

  • When I was in Bahrain, I think I tried this sauce. This is delicious!

  • Hi.
    As a great fan, I know a bit about it.
    Different sorts of small fish such as sardines are mixed with salt (for an obvious reason) and strong herbs (i only know mustard). They let it sit in a clay jar for at least 40 days to ferment, very similar to vinegar development process. During this, the mix must be mixed and even grinded repeatedly.
    It eventually turns into a very thick sauce with a super strong smell. It litarallu smells like socks of an old fisherman who has never washed his feet for the last ten years … literally.
    My wife hates it but I love it for its smell (active healthy bacterias) and its very rich taste. Normlly you cannot have more than a teaspoon of it per each course. If I happen to get exact rdcipe, I will post it here.

Leave a Comment