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Al-Halfla-art - 2/15/09


A series of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dayboards put on for the Al Halfla 2009 event by Lady Adelisa di Salerno (was Gianotta).


NOTE: See also the files: ME-Refrsh-Tbl-art, Topkapi-Serai-art, Caliphs-Ktchn-rev, fd-Mid-East-msg, fd-Turkey-msg, ME-revel-fds-art, baklava-msg, rice-pudding-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2009 15:50:01 -0500 (EST)

From: Christiane <christianetrue at earthlink.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] al-Hafla breakdown ...

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org


After having planned what turned out to be a pretty successful al-Hafla, I just wanted to say "thank you" to all on the list. Mostly lurking on here, I learned a lot about how to make up for the deficiencies of a kitchen and what kind of food prep can be successfully done in advance; how to divvy up responsibilities; and how to get volunteers into the kitchen to wash the pots and pans Now that it's been a month I can look back and say, "Wow, glad I did it, but I won't be doing this again too soon. If ever." ;-)


Because al-Hafla is an event centered on music and dancing and storytelling, and because of the size of the kitchen in the facility, I had opted to go with an all-day-into-the-evening spread of foods that people could pick up when they felt like it. Because al-Hafla brings together a spectrum of personas from Persia, Turkey, the Middle East in general, and the Mediterranean, the food reflected this diversity as well. Many of the recipes I got from Master Rashid, who was tireless in providing advice.


I had split the day into a breakfast board, a lunch board, and a dinner board, as well as having things on the board all day long.


Things on the board all day long: spicy cheese dip, hummus, olives, fruit, pita bread, torshi (Persian pickles), cut-up vegetables (cucumbers and celery, and anachronistic grape tomatoes


Breakfast board: Eggs and lentils (eggs baked on top of a spiced lentil mash), apricot pudding (cream of wheat, dried apricots, sugar and orange essence), Arabian shortbread, carrot halwa


Lunch board: The Emir of Catania's chicken (cooked chicken mixed with bread crumbs, capers, and lemon juice, served in a breadloaf), chickpea stew, mujaddara (rice and lentils), baklava, Persian rice pudding


Dinner board: Chicken legs and thighs cooked in lemon juice, lemon vinegar, broth, whole herbs, and whole cloves of garlic; manti (Turkish ravioli); cauliflower in tahini sauce; Persian salad. Sweets were the carrot halwa, baklava, Arabian shortbread, and Persian rice pudding.


Things I would do differently: not freezing the manti (it was very difficult to get them out of the layers of waxed paper and several opened up when boiling, disgorging their meaty insides); and making more chicken (I thought to myself, people are so tired of chicken; but apparently smelling it cooking drove folks nuts and they wiped out the two enormous trays in five minutes flat).


But overall, it was a successful event and I was told by some that the food was the best they ever had at an SCA event. :-)





[The following recipes were sent to me by email by Gianotta - Stefan]


Al-Hafla 2009 recipes


Things on the dayboard all day:


Hummus (made by Gallavin)


Beyaz Peynir Ezmesi



Spicy Pureed Feta Cheese


1 pound feta cheese, broken into chunks

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons Turkish red pepper or ground red pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

2 teaspoons dried mint

Assorted olives


Soak the feta cheese in warm water for about 30 minutes, changing the water often.  Doing so will reduce the saltiness of the cheese.  Drain the cheese well, then crumble it


Place the feta cheese, garlic, paprika, Turkish red pepper, and olive oil in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Process the mixture until smooth.  Transfer it to a shallow bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.


Serve the cheese at room temperature.  Drizzle olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the dried mint Serve with pita bread & assorted olives.



Cheese and Walnut Dip

Nan-o panir-o-gerdu        

Makes 2 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes


1/4 pound white cheese, chopped (feta, soaked & drained)

2 cups shelled walnuts chopped                                                         

2 tablespoons chopped' fresh scallions                                                

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon                                                     

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint                                                                   

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed                                                                

1/2  teaspoon salt                                   

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper                                                  

juice of one lime                                    

1/4 cup olive oil                                    


1.  In a food processor or in a bowl, mix the cheese, chopped walnuts, scallions, fresh herbs, and garlic.

2.  Add salt, pepper, lime juice, and olive oil; mix well.

3.  Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and place it on a round platter.

4.  Cut lavash or pita bread into 4-inch pieces and arrange around the bowl on a platter.  



Spinach Dip (Borani-e esfenaj)


1 cup chopped frozen spinach (thawed)

2 onions, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or crushed

4 tbsp olive oil

1.5 cups laban

.5 tsp salt

.25 tsp fresh ground black pepper

.25 tsp saffron dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water


Saute onion until it is soft.  Add garlic and cook until starting to brown.  Add spinach and cook until juice is half evaporated. Remove from heat and cool

Mix in yogurt and saffron and season to taste with slat and pepper.

Serve with pita bread.





1 Can or Jar of Giardinara

1/2 Head of Cauliflower

1/2 lb Mini Eggplants

1 tbsp Minced Garlic

2 – 3 tbsp Chopped Fresh Cilantro

2 – 3 tbsp Chopped Fresh Dill

1/2 tsp Ground Cumin

1/2 tsp Angelica

1 tsp Ground Coriander

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

Vinegar to taste


Break head of cauliflower into bite size chunks.  If eggplants are smaller than 3 inches long, cut them in half, otherwise cut them into 2 inch cubes.  Parboil both separately.


While still hot, toss with remaining ingredients and let the flavor steep for 30 minutes before refrigerating.  If needed, add a little vinegar.



"Breakfast" board


Carrot Halwa (halva-ye havij)  


2 lbs carrots

1.5 cups sugar

.5 cup unsalted butter

2 cups rice flour (I have used wheat flour, but I use about 1.5 cups)

.5 tsp ground saffron dissolved in .25 cup rose water

2 tsp ground cardamom

2 tbsp finely ground pistachios (or slivered almonds) for garnish


Peel and finely chop or grate carrots.  (food processor) Place in saucepan and cover with 1 cup of water and bring to boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender (20 minutes)  


Add another cup of water and all the sugar to the saucepan.  Bring to boil until sugar is completely dissolved.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 more minutes.


In a large non-stick skillet, melt butter and add the flour, and stirring constantly, cook over high heat until the mixture turns golden brown.  (5 to 1o minutes).


Add the flour mixture to the carrot mixture, along with the saffron, rose water and cardamom.   Stirring constantly with wooden spoon cook for 10 more minutes or until mixture forms a thick paste.


At this point the recipe says  to cool slightly and process in food processor until smooth, but I usually just attack it with a potato masher.  (the kind with the little square holes, not the wiggly wire one)


Spoon onto a flat serving platter and flatten to about .5 or .75 inches thick.  Decorate by making geometric patterns with back of spoon and garnish with nuts.  Chill and then slice into diamonds like baklava.






VEG STOCK                1.00 CUP

SPLIT LENTILS            1/2  LB

MINCED GARLIC            1 or 2 TSP

ONION                    1/4  LB

CUMIN                    2       TSP

WHITE VINEGAR            1/4     CUP

PEPPER                   1/2     TSP

SALT                        1/2   TSP

EGGS                         8


Rinse lentils.  Add lentils to stock in pan.  Add water if needed.   Bring to boil.


Remove scum or froth.


Saute onions in a little oil until golden.  Add garlic and cumin and fry for another minute.


Add onion mixture to lentils, and cook until done (almost mush), adding water if needed to prevent drying out. Season with salt, pepper and vinegar.


Add lentils to lightly oiled baking pan.  Make 8 indentations in each pan

and break raw eggs into indentations.  


Bake at 300 for 35-45 minutes, until whites of eggs are opaque.  Yolks should be slightly translucent.



Apricot Pudding



SUGAR                                3/4    CUP

ORANGE BLOSSOM WATER              2 or 3 TSP

DRIED APRICOTS                     8      OZ

CREAM OF WHEAT                     8      OZ

CEYLON CINNAMON                    1      TSP


Cover Apricots with water and simmer until soft. Cool. Mash or puree.


Prepare semolina according to package directions, adding a little more water and cooking until creamy

Mix apricots with semolina. Add sugar to taste.  

Cool and serve.



Arabian Shortbread

Makes 40 pieces


           1 1/2 cups butter                              1 egg yolk

           1 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar             3 cups flour

           1 teaspoon orange blossom water             40 blanched almonds



Place the butter, 1 1/2 cups of the confectioner's sugar, the orange blossom water, and egg yolk in a blender; then blend for 1 minute.  Transfer to a mixing bowl; then gradually add the flour while mixing with the fingers, until a smooth dough is formed.  Form the dough into balls a little smaller than a walnut; then place on an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten slightly to about 1/2 inch thickness.  Press an almond on each piece; then bake in a 300'F preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the bottoms turn light brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool; then sprinkle with the remaining confectioner's sugar.


Note:  The ghurayba may feel soft at the end of baking time, but they will harden as they cool.



"Lunch" board


Pasticcio di Mohammed ibn Itmnah (the Emir of Catania's chicken)


1 pound of deboned chicken breast and thighs

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cups chicken broth

juice of 2 lemons

sea salt to taste

1 tsp fresh black pepper

1 tsp of sumac

1/4  tsp cinnamon

1/8 cup almonds

1/4 cup pistachios

1 medium onion

2 lightly beaten eggs

1 tablespoon of capers

1 large round loaf of semolina bread


Make a horizontal slice off the top of the loaf of bread and hollow out the interior, setting aside the crumbs and the slice off the top as a lid. Cut up the chicken and sauté it in the olive oil with the chopped-up onion and the spices. Puree the chicken in a food processor, adding the nuts and reserved bread crumbs, while gradually streaming in the chicken broth and lemon juice; pulse often; add the capers, parsley, and eggs, pulse until just mixed with the meat/bread/nut paste. Put the paste into the loaf, cover with the lid, and bake at 350 F for 20 minutes. Serve cold, sliced.



Chickpea stew


4 cups of chickpeas, soaked overnight

2 large onions

olive oil

sea salt to taste

1 tbs freshly ground white pepper

1 tbs of cubebs, ground

1 large bunch of parsley, chopped



Sautee the onions until caramelized, with the spices and the parsley. Take the soaked chickpeas, drain and rinse, and put in a large crockpot, with the sautéed onions and parsley, Fill with water. Drizzle a little olive oil in. Cook on low hear for at least 8 hours or on high heat for at least 6.



Mujadara (lentils with rice and onions)


1 cup of lentils

2 cups of basmati or jasmine rice

Sea salt

1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp of ground cardamom

2 tsp of cumin

2 large onions, chopped

Olive oil for frying

3 cups of water


In one pan, caramelize the onions with the spices (except the cumin and salt). In another large pan, boil the lentils in 3 cups of water for about 7 minutes over medium heat, or until just starting to get tender. Add the rice, cumin, salt; add more water as needed, simmering until the water is absorbed, the rice is cooked, and the lentils are tender. In a large bowl, dump the rice and lentils and the caramelized onions in their cooking oil. Mix well and serve.



Gallavin's baklava



"Dinner" board


Manti (Turkish ravioli)


1 large box of wonton wraps (48 pieces)

1 pound of ground beef

2 large onions, finely chopped

Black pepper

Salt to taste


For the sauce:

1 large container of  plain yogurt, or 4 cups

4 tsp minced garlic

4 tbs of butter



1 tsp tamarind paste

2 tsp white pepper


Mix the meat, onions, pepper, and salt together. Fill each wrapper with about 1 tbs of the mixture, folding and sealing the wrappers. Freeze in single layers on parchment-covered cookie sheets; carefully transfer the frozen manti to ziplock bags for storage.


To boil the manti: Add manti a few at a time to a large stockpot of boiling water with olive oil to prevent the manti from sticking together; boil until the manti rise to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a serving bowl with a bit of the cooking liquid, and cover to keep warm.


For the sauce: Before boiling the manti, bring the yogurt to room temperature and mix with the garlic. When all of the manti are cooked, pour the yogurt sauce over them. Melt the butter in a pan, and once the butter is sizzling, add the white pepper, tamarind paste,  and paprika, and pour over the manti and yogurt sauce, sprinkling with sumac. Serve hot.



Chicken with lemon, garlic, and herbs


4 pounds of various chicken parts (legs, thighs, and breasts)

Head of garlic, peeled into cloves

1 bottle of white balsamic vinegar

2 cups of lemon juice

3 cups of chicken broth

2 bunches each of thyme, rosemary, and sage


Oven at 325F


Arrange the parts in a shallow pan; they can crowd each other. Take sprigs of the herbs and arrange them between the chicken pieces; do the same with the cloves of garlic. Pour in about 1/4 cup of the vinegar, 1 cup of the lemon juice, and one cup of the broth. Cover loosely and stick in the oven; check liquid levels in about 15 minutes. Add more broth, lemon juice, and vinegar as the liquid cooks off. Cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the meat is falling off the leg bones (about an hour and a half).  Place on a serving dish, with the cooked herbs and garlic cloves, drizzled with the pan juices.





1/2 Head Romaine Lettuce

1/2 Bunch Italian Parsley

1/2 Bunch Cilantro

1 Bunch Mint (spearmint)

8 Thin Style Pita Breads

4  - 8 oz Feta Cheese or Panir or Queso Fresca, cut into 1 inch cubes





Juice of 1 Lemon

1 Cup Sugar

1/3 Cup White Vinegar

1/3 Cup Water

2 tbsp Dried Mint Flakes (spearmint)


Was and dry greens and herbs.  Remove any herbs that are not in good condition.


Boil ingredients for dressing until sugar dissolves.  Add more sugar or more vinegar to taste.  Strain and cool.


Serve dressing in small bowl in middle of platter, surrounded by greens, bread and cheese.  Dip greens and herbs in dressing and wrap in bread with chunks of cheese.



Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce


Garlic              1/2 tsp      

Cauliflower              2 cups

Juice of 1 lemon     (or to taste)

Tahini              1/2 cup     

Sea salt                  1/2 tsp

Cumin                    1 tsp

Black pepper             1 tsp

Sumac                  1/2 tsp  


Cut cauliflowers into quarters.  Boil until done but not mushy.  Drain, keep warm          


While cauliflower is cooking, mix remaining ingredients. Toss with cauliflower and serve.



Eggplant, Ustican style (Melanzane all'Usticese)


2 large eggplants

Sea salt

1 cup or more of olive oil

1 TBSP white wine vinegar

1 tsp of sugar

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

2 cloves of garlic, sliced


Wash the eggplants, peel, and cut off their stems. Cut the eggplants into 1/2 inch slices, then cut the slices into finger-shaped pieces. Put into a colander, sprinkle abundantly with salt, and let the bitter liquid drain for an hour. Rinse the drained eggplant thoroughly of the salt, dry, and then fry in the olive oil until browned on all sides. Drain the pieces on absorbent paper to remove the excess oil, and then place on a shallow serving dish. Sprinkle while hot with vinegar, sugar, mint, and garlic. Serve cold.



Rice Pudding  (Shir berenj)


1/2 cup rice, cleaned and washed

2 cups water

1/4  tsp salt

3 cups milk

1/2 cup half & half or cream(optional)

1/4 cup rosewater

1 tsp ground cardamom


Put rice, water and salt in a heavy saucepan.  Bring to boil then reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes until rice is tender.


Add the milk and cream.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat.  Cover and simmer over very low heat for 45 minutes to an hour, until consistency is like pudding.  Add cardamom and rosewater and cook 10 minutes more.


Transfer to a bowl and chill in fridge.   Serve with sharbat, honey or rose syrup.


Arabian shortbread


Gallavin's baklava



Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2009 18:11:26 -0500 (EST)

From: Christiane <christianetrue at earthlink.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] al-Hafla breakdown

To: David Friedman <ddfr at daviddfriedman.com>,  Cooks within the SCA

      <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


< What is your recipe/redaction for the spicy cheese dip? >

<< It's Master Rashid's redaction: >>


<<< Am I correct in reading this as meaning that most of the recipes you

were using were modern middle eastern rather than period middle

eastern? I didn't recognize any of them as from the period cookbooks

and wondered. >>>


Most of the recipes came from Master Rashid, who specializes in Persian cooking. I don't know where he was sourcing from, but I can ask him. This was not a formal sitdown feast, where we would have had more citation. The Persian salad and the cauliflower dishes, however, were served at previous feasts at Bhakail, and the cheese and spinach dips were popular dayboard items. The manti were periodoid; I decided against the chickpeas in the Ottoman recipe and just went with ground beef and added minced onions.


The chickpea stew was entirely my creation. I needed something completely vegan; after reading St. Joseph's Day recipe after St. Joseph's Day recipe for Sicilian garbanzo stews, I just winged it. And mujaddara was also my creation, from the basic recipe; again, I needed a completely vegan dish. The pasticcio was also from me.


The carrot halwa is from Rajasthan; I can ask Master Rashid his source, but it's probably modern. I'm pretty sure the shortbread was modern too.


FYI, I was the autocrat as well as the main cook for this event!




<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org