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E-Arab-recip-art - 3/23/03


Selected early Arab recipes prior to the 13th Century by Anahita. These are from "In a Caliph's Kitchen" by David Waines, a rather difficult to find book.


NOTE: See also the files: fd-Mid-East-msg, fd-Persia-msg, murri-msg, Arabs-msg, Middle-East-msg, cl-Mid-East-msg, turbans-msg, cookbooks-bib, online-ckbks-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: Mon, 23 Dec 2002 15:21:56 -0800

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

Subject: [Sca-cooks] pre-Baghdadi Recipes in Waines - PT. 1


--- PART ONE ---


From Anahita


Spurred by a message long ago requesting recipes from before the

12th century, I've gone through "In a Caliph's Kitchen" and tried

to pull out those that are non-Baghdadi/pre-Baghdadi, i.e. before the

13th century. Most of these are from other Arabic books, or at least

attributed to early chefs. Since I already have al-Baghdadi's recipes

elsewhere, these are what interest me the most anyway, besides

Waines' essays at the beginning of the book and some of his comments

on the recipes.


I'm sending this message to the list in three parts, because it is

rather long for e-mail (39K total according to my e-mail client - so

each part is about 12 to 14 k).


In a Caliph's Kitchen

David Waines

Riad El Rayyes Books Ltd.

56 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7NJ


ISBN 1-869844-60-2


I realize that this could be considered a copyright violation, so I

am presenting it to the cooks list, because this book is out of print

and very very hard to find - even to ILL, which is what I did, then

photocopied. I would much rather have purchased the book but

despaired after searching for it from used booksellers on-line for

several years.


I don't know the date of the anonymous Egyptian book, but I suspect

it is one included in "Medieval Arab Cookery" and is a bit later than

al-Baghdadi. al-Warraq, Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi, and Abu Samim are



They are presented in the order in which they appear in Waine's book

- they don't appear to me to be organized in any clear way.


I include Waines' intro to each recipe and the translation of the

original, but NOT Waines' "modern" version, which is often not much

like the original.


Words in the recipes in (parentheses) are from Waines. Remarks [in

square brackets] are from me.


The Arabic "gh" is pronounced rather like a German or French "r",

that is, it is rather gutteralized or uvular.

The Arabic "r" is flapped or rolled, like a Spanish or Italian "r".


Note that "fresh coriander" is coriander greens, variously called

cilantro or Chinese parsley; and that "dried coriander" is coriander



Aubergine is eggplant.


Where only "meat" is specified you can't go wrong with lamb (or

mutton), although goat is also a possibility. Beef (or ox) is ok to

substitute, but less likely to have been used in the original.

Naturally pork or boar is out of the question.


A number of recipes call for "washing the sides of the pot". Since

this is generally done before leaving the pot to cook on the fire

without stirring, I assume it is so none of the food burns on the

sides which would look unattractive upon serving, and could ruin the

flavor of the completed dish.




Shaljamiya - pp. 34-35


WAINES: This recipe is taken from the earliest extant Arabic culinary

work of al-Warraq. Attributed to Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi, it is on of

two in which he used shaljam or turnip, an Arabized word from the

Persian shalgham. Radish is recommended by al-Warraq as a substitute

for turnip in this preparation; or, if turnips were not in season,

gourd and onion could also have been used. In the modernized version

here [which i, Anahita, am omitting], the vegetable known in English

as swede [that's rutabaga in the US, yes?, and OOP?] makes an

excellent substitute for turnip, giving a richer and more distinctive

flavour. Ibrahim composed a poem on this dish in which he compare the

turnip to the moon and stars, or again, as silver coins.


ORIGINAL: Take the breasts of chicken or other fowl, cut into thin

slices and place in a pot with a lot of oil adding water to cover.

Remove the scum. Throw in chick peas and olive oil and the white of

onion and when cooked, sprinkle ion top with pepper and cumin. Next

take the turnip and boil it until cooked and then mash it so that no

hard bits remain in it. Strain in a sieve and place in the pot. Then

take shelled almonds and put in a stone mortar adding to it a piece

of cheese and bray very fine. Break over this the whites of five eggs

and pound until it becomes very soft. Put this mixture over the

turnip and if there is milk in it, put in a bit of nard and leave on

the fire to settle. Serve it with mustard.




Badhinjan mahshi - pp. 36-37


WAINES: This is one of a wide range of dishes known collectively as

bawarid, that is, cold dishes. They were made from various vegetable

feature, for example, carrots, gourd, and beet. Examples of such cold

dishes can also be found made from meat, poultry or fish. This

particular preparation is attributed also to Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi who

was very fond of the vegetable. Medieval physicians regarded

aubergine as an excellent food specifically because of its property

of causing any obstruction in the kidney or spleen to be removed.


ORIGINAL: Take the aubergine and stew it. Cut it up into small pieces

after stewing. Next take a serving dish and put into it vinegar,

white sugar and crushed almonds, saffron, caraway and cinnamon. Then

take the aubergine and the fried onion and put them in the dish. Pour

oil over it and server, God willing.




Rutab mu'assal - pp. 38-39


WAINES: In English this literally means 'honeyed dates'. Dates were

the common staple food of the rural and nomadic populations

throughout the Middle East where the hardy date palms of the arid and

semi-arid zones produced vast quantities and varieties of this

nourishing fruit. The Prophet Muhammad was reported to have said that

dates possessed the special quality of dispelling poison and magic.

He also is said to have commented that a household without dates was

a hungry one. This preparation, from the thirteenth century, has all

the features of the more sophisticated urban cooking tradition in its

use of rosewater, almonds, musk, camphor and hyacinth. Only the first

two need to be used, however, to enjoy this dish.


ORIGINAL: Take freshly gathered dates and lay in the shade and air

for a day. Then remove the stones and stuff with peeled almonds. For

every ten ratls of dates take two ratls of honey. Boil over the fire

with two uqiya of rose water and half a dirham of saffron, then throw

in the dates, stirring for an hour. Remove and allow to cool. When

cold, sprinkle with find-ground sugar scented with musk, camphor an

hyacinth. Put into glass preserving jars, sprinkling on top some of

the scented ground sugar. Cover until the weather is cold and

[braziers] are brought in.


[My Comments: Waines' wrote "chafing dishes", but the original word

is qanun, which is a brazier, a metal one is used to heat a room in

cold weather]




Zirbaj - pp. 40-41


WAINES: There are many varieties of this dish which is Persian in

origin. The tenth century compiler of recipes, al-Warraq, includes

this in a chapter of his work entitled zirbaj preparations and those,

such as the one given here, made a la Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi. The sweet

and sour flavours (in this case provided by the sugar and vinegar)

were a common feature of dishes of Persian origin and may be found

today in certain North African preparations.


ORIGINAL: Take a fine quality chicken, joint it and clean it and

place it in a clean pot. Then pour over one half ratl of fresh water

and one half uqiya of a good quality oil, some white of onion, and

boil together. When boiled, pour in white vinegar, a half ratl and

two uqiya of white sugar, and one uqiya peeled almonds, and one uqiya

rose water. Add spices, pepper, cinnamon and ginger tied up in a fine

cloth so that they do not alter the dish's colour. Place on the fire

a little allowing it to thicken.




Sibagh - pp. 41-43


WAINES: This is a general term for many kinds of seasoning or

condiment and applies here specifically to the sauce to accompany

fish. The preparation is attributed to Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi. Recipes

have also come down to us for poultry dishes. One type of sibagh was

used by travellers and came for convenience in the shape of small

dried cakes made of currants with pomegranate seeds which, when read

for use, could be reconstituted with vinegar. The purpose of such

condiments at meals was to cleanse the palate of the oiliness of

certain dishes, to stimulate the appetite and assist digestion.


ORIGINAL: Take a handful of choice raisins and soak them in vinegar.

Then mash. Add a little garlic and beat in with the vinegar. Prepare

a saucer of this.




Masliya - pp. 44-45


WAINES: This preparation, also one by Ibriham ibn al-Mahdi, has a

distinct Arab character about it. Masl, a by-product of milk, is

variously described as dried curds, cooked and dried whey, or dried

milk. In any event, milk was part of the staple diet of the Beduin

and was considered by them to be 'one of the two meats' (the other,

of course, being meat flesh). In its dried form it could be kept for

a long while until needed when it required being chopped into small

pieces for the cooking pot. Galingal (khulinjan in Persian) of the

greater variety belongs to the ginger family and the two are often

found together in medieval dishes. Like ginger, is is the spicy root

of the plant which is used., and as galingal is difficult to obtain

ginger alone makes a good substitute. [yeah, right, sure] For

convenience, spinach has been substituted for beet leaves in

modernized version of the recipe. [see if you can get beet greens.

They're really really tasty, and they taste very different from



ORIGINAL: Take the meat of a small young animal and cut it into

finger like strips and place it in the pot after cleaning it

thoroughly. Pour over it fine oil, a stick each of galingal and

cinnamon and add fresh coriander and chopped onion. Cook and when

nearly done, sprinkle over it pepper, dried coriander and ground

cumin. Next boil beet (leaves) and add to the pot. Then cut up masl

very fine and place over the contents and present it, God willing.


[My Comments: I think I can get masl at my local Persian market or my

local hallal Pakistani meat and grocery market. Waines used Gruyere

cheese in his version, which I think would be way off]




Madira - pp. 54-55


WAINES: One of the classic Arab dishes, so-called because it is

cooked with sour milk, which 'bites the tongue'. In order to get the

proper degree of bite, fresh milk would be mixed with milk gathered

in a goat's skin bag which would quickly sour it. Its original,

rustic preparation was simplicity itself. Here, in the hands of

Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi, a transformation has occurred to suit the urban

palate. Ibrahim using his favourite vegetable the aubergine. The dish

was judged to be so tempting that people could be driven to renounce

their fast in order to indulge in it. Also deemed comforting for

whatever ailment afflicted you, the dish was called "the miracle



ORIGINAL: Take milk in sufficient amount for the meat and let it be

of moderate sourness; if it is too sour, then let (the proportion) be

two thirds sour milk and one third fresh milk. Light a gentle fire

under it and set (the pot) on it covered, and be patient for an hour

so that the sour milk settles to the bottom and the water rises to

the top. Strain the water from it and set it aside. Next take the

meat from the shoulder (of the animal) and the ribs next to it, cut

up into thin slices and wash. Stew lightly if you are in a hurry.

Then remove from the pot and cover with cold water, allowing it to be

absorbed. When the water had been drawn off from it, the pot with the

sour milk is placed on the fire after the meat has been added to it.

Kindle a gentle fire under it so that when the (contents) have boiled

twice, you then peel and chop aubergine and gourd and onion round and

place in water and salt for an hour. Add to the pot so that when it

boils again, a bunch of mint is then added. When the contents have

thickened, the water previously strained (from the sour milk) is

sprinkled over it little by little. Wipe around the pot and leave it

on the embers. Do not add any spices except cumin alone. Then remove

the bunch of mint and add fresh mint so that it does not become

blackened; if this, however, is not a matter of concern, then add

dried coriander to the cumin. And, if asparagus is plentiful, use




Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2002 15:22:28 -0800

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

Subject: [Sca-cooks] pre-Baghdadi Recipes in Waines - PT. 2


--- PART TWO ---


From Anahita




In a Caliph's Kitchen

David Waines

Riad El Rayyes Books Ltd.

56 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7NJ


ISBN 1-869844-60-2


See first message for explanation of format and info included here.




Mutajjan bi sadr al-dajjaj - pp. 56-57


WAINES: A simple dish of Ibrahim's which simply means pieces of

chicken bread (sadr al-dajjaj) fried in a tajin. The ingredient murri

is a prepared condiment or seasoning which is impossible to replicate

in the modern home, as it requires many weeks of labour intensive

preparation commencing in the spring and lasting throughout the

height of the summer heat. To say that it is made from barley flour

seasoned with a variety of spices conveys no impression of its

complexity. One recipe suggests as a substitute the spice sumac; as

its rather astringent citrus-like flavour works well in dishes where

it is ordinarily used, this substitution has been made throughout

these recipes [in Waines' work ups]. Murri is said to have warming

properties causing thirst and dryness in the body, in which respect

it is even stronger than salt. This effect of murri can be countered

by either drinking water or eating something sweet.


ORIGINAL: Take chicken breasts sliced, cut up into small pieces and

fry in oil until they appear to be cooked. Add to them pepper, fresh

coriander and sprinkle over them vinegar and murri and then spread

ground almonds on top, God willing.




Zirbajat al-Safarjal - pp. 58-59


WAINES: This is another variety of zirbaj as found in the recipe of

that name (page 40). It is also one of Ibrahim's. The ingredient

featured in it is quince (safarjal) juice, which together with the

vinegar, gives the dish a pleasantly tart flavour. According to

medieval medical lore, zirbaj dishes in general were unsuited for

personas with 'weak stomachs'. Quince, however, is recommended as a

counterbalancing ingredient for zirbaj, so this dish ought to suit

everyone's stomach.


ORIGINAL: Take one young plump chicken, joint it and place it in a

clean pot. Put with it a stick of galingal, a handful of soaked and

peeled chickpeas and a ratl of whole onions and a little salt. Pour

over this sufficient water and salt to cover (the contents of the

pot) and one third uqiya of oil. Then place the pot on the fire

until. the onion is cooked; then remove all the onion so that none is

left and then discard. Next, pour into the pot a quarter ratl of

vinegar and wait until it has cooked. Then pour into (the pot) a ratl

of fresh quince juice which has been pressed that day and add half an

uqiya dried coriander and half a dirhem pepper and likewise half of

nard, three dirhems of cumin and twenty dirhems of the choice pith of

bread. Remove from the fire, wash around the pot and leave to settle.

Then present, God willing.




Isfidhbaja Khadra - pp. 60-61


WAINES: The famous tenth century physician, al-Razi, says of this

variety of dish that it is very healthy, being suitable for most

conditions and occasions, for all ages and for all persons of

voracious temperament, except the truly gluttonous. Those, however,

inclined towards a temperament governed by yellow bile would find

this dish unsuitable on its own: they would be advised to eat it with

some kind of sour tasting fruit followed by a helping of sikbaj (see

recipe on page 76). The kanun is a clay or mud brick hearth used for

cooking. In this recipe, Ibrahim has employed a common practice of

making a kind of quick vegetable stock in which to flavour the dish

at a secondary stage of the preparation; here it is made of celery

and fresh coriander water.


[My Comments: portable metal kanuns are used as room heaters. The

clay cooking kanun is also portable - it is a footed bowl - the

charcoal going in the top and the dish to be cooked sitting over the



ORIGINAL: Take some four ratls of meat, cut it up bit by bit and

place in a pot with a piece of cinnamon, a ratl of onion chopped up

and a third of a ratl of oil with some salt as required. Cover with

water and then place the pot quickly on a portable stove or a kanun.

When the contents are half cooked, throw in with it pieces of cheese

to the amount of five dirhems. When almost completely cooked, add a

total of half a ratl of the water of coriander and celery, then pound

dried coriander and a dirhem of pepper and half a dirhem of cinnamon.

Leave until the contents have settled. Remove and serve, God willing.


[My Comments: The coriander in the water is green. Celery was not the

long firm crunch stalks we use, but the small sprigs with the leaves

on, so get untrimmed celery to make this. Recipes i've seen for

making a green flavor water involved pulverizing the greens,

straining and squeezing through cloth, and using the liquid]




Samak mishwa - pp. 66-67


WAINES: Al-Razi, taking his cue from the Greek physician Galen

described fish in general to be bad and difficult to digest. Although

al-Razi was himself knowledgeable in matters of the kitchen, his

professional medical opinion did not accord with that of contemporary

gourmands who delighted in dishes such as this one.


ORIGINAL: Take fresh fish, and scrape off the skin very well with a

knife. Split open, wash thoroughly and dry. Take sumac, grind fine

and discard the seeds. Take half of this quantity of dry thyme and

also grind, together with a quarter as much garlic, skinned and

chopped fine. Now take half the total quantity of walnuts and chop

and mix all together, adding a little fine ground coriander, cumin,

cinnamon, and mastic. Make this into a paste with fresh sesame oil,

adding salt to taste. Smear the fish with sesame oil and saffron

mixed with rose water inside and out. Then stuff with the stuffing

described. Tie up with strong cotton threads and place on an iron

skewer. Place in the oven over a gentle fire, not blazing. Cover and

leave to cook well, then remove. This can be eaten hot or cold.


[My Comments: While I don't have access to the Arabic, I suspect that

the word translated here as "thyme" is actually zataar - about which

we've had many conversations on this list, and while often in the

same family as thyme is not always what we call thyme...]




Barida - 82-83


WAINES: This cold dish made from chicken was devised by Ibrahim ibn

al-Mahdi. The recipe is expressed in poetic form, not surprising from

a man who was not only a gourmand, but well known as a poet too. He

describes the dish as perfect summertime fare. The physician al-Razi

observes that such dishes of the bawarid type, when made with vinegar

or with the juice of sour fruits, serve to cool the temperament and

moderate it. Qutha and faqqus, mentioned in the original recipe, are

species of cucumber.


ORIGINAL: Two parts almonds and sugar and two parts vinegar and

mustard mixed together in a vessel with partially dried safflower

adding colour around the [one short word not legible in my photocopy,

may be "edges"]. Cucumber peeled, qutha and faqqas and pomegranate,

chopped up small and sprinkled around the vessel. Add a little oil.

Take a fine young chicken, cooked in vinegar, jointed and cut up in

pieces and placed over the other ingredients in one vessel. Decorate

the dish with pomegranate (seeds) and with almonds and olives chopped

up fine.




Narjisiya - pp. 84-85


WAINES: This is Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi in poetic flight again, where he

is replying to a friend's request for the recipe for a fine dish. A

surprising ingredient is asparagus which but rarely appears in these

recipe, although Ibrahim seemed to have a particular liking for it...

In a later recipe from al-Baghdadi's work, the narcissus flower is

imitated by garnishing the dish with poached eggs, evidence that

attention was paid as well to the presentation of the dishes on the



ORIGINAL: Remove the chops from the carcass and then the meat and fat

of the flank. Cut up the fresh fat meat and wash it. Place it in a

vessel over the fire and fry it in oil and spices until browned. Then

cup up over it onion round and fresh green onion and add rue and

coriander. Then add murri, ginger and a little pepper. Next add

asparagus. Break over this egg yolks which resemble the radiant stars

of the firmament and the rounded shaped flower of narcissus. Sprinkle

bits of rue over the top. Then, remember God and eat this delicious

wholesome food.




Tabahija - 86-87


WAINES: Another dish whose name is Arabicized from the Persian. There

are also many varieties of this dish which appear in most of the

culinary manuals. This one, attributed to Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi, is

the earliest one we have. Like murri, kamakh is a savoury seasoning

which is time-consuming to prepare, the operation commencing in June

and ending in October. In this preparation for Tabahija, kamakh juice

is used which means extracting the soluble elements from it by

steeping or soaking in water. A later, thirteenth century, version of

this dish suggests sumac juice, prepared in the same way as kamakh

juice as a substitute for murri.


ORIGINAL: Take the meat and slice and wash it thoroughly. Put half a

ratl of water in a pot and boil it. Place the meat in the pot and

pour over it fine oil, a little salt and cut up into it peeled

aubergine and onion rings. When the contents have cooked and the

liquid evaporated, sprinkle over it the amount of half a spoonful of

kamakh juice and murri, and if desired, an equal amount of vinegar.

Next proceed to chop up some herbs and spices, a little each of

coriander or caraway, cinnamon and cumin, sprinkle over the contents

and stir a while. Wash the sides of the pot with a ladle of water and

leave awhile until settled. Then serve, God willing.




Zaitun - pp. 88-89


WAINES: This way of preparing and storing olives, suggested by

Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi, provides a pleasant side dish placed alongside

others on the meal table to be dipped into when desired. They can

also be used wherever olives are called for in recipes [i don't

agree]. The Mediterranean region provides 98 % of the world's acreage

of olive production used to make oil. The vegetable [nope, sorry

David, it's a *fruit*], which is native to that area, has been

cultivated for three millenia [sic] for cooking, lamp and cosmetic

oils and for food.


ORIGINAL: Take black or green olives, black being the best, and put

them in a jar adding to the contents salt and thyme. Then cover with

fine oil. Use when the occasion arises, God willing.


[My Comments: While I don't have access to the Arabic, I suspect that

the word translated here as "thyme" is actually zataar - about which

we've had many conversations on this list]




'Ijja min Badhinjan - pp. 90-91


WAINES: The customary form of 'ijja is a food made with eggs, like an

omelette. Here the word is used in another known sense to apply to a

dish compounded of different ingredients mixed into a kind of dough

and fried. The binding agent in this preparation is provided by the

breadcrumbs rather than the egg. This recipe is from an anonymous

work of probably Egyptian origin.


ORIGINAL: Take a pleasant aubergine and peel it. Boil it in salted

water until it is cooked through. Extract from it all the moisture.

Then knead it in a bowl with crumbled pieces of bread with an

infusion of murri, pepper, dried coriander and cinnamon, and beat

them all together until the mixture is smooth. Then fry in a pan with

oil, small loaf-sized portions of the mixture until cooked and

browned. Make a sauce of vinegar and oil and murri and crushed

garlic. Boil these together and pour over the loaves when ready for



[My Comments: The omelette type dish described by Waines is probably

related to the modern Persian dish usually Romanized as eggah - there

is no hard g sound in Arabic, so the soft j sound is used instead.]




Jazr - pp. 92-93


WAINES: There are a few dishes in the medieval Arabic repertoire

where a vegetable is highlighted by itself. In this case it is used

to decorate the plate on which something else is served; it is, in

fact, a perfect accompaniment with a dish of plain rice. Carrots, at

least, can be treated on their own as the carrot family of plants

(which includes caraway, cumin, coriander, and dill, all common to

medieval Arab cooking) is characterized by strongly scented essential

oils. This recipe is thirteenth century Moroccan


ORIGINAL: Cut the carrots into pieces without peeling them. Select

the middle bits and cut each piece in half and cook in salted water.

Dry the pieces off and fry in a pan with fresh oil. Then pour over it

boiling vinegar with crushed garlic and caraway. One can then either

leave the carrot pieces without frying (or else place them after

frying) as decoration on a platter.


[My Comments: First, I should check and see if this is in the

Anonymous Andalusian cookbook. Second, this is *VERY* like a modern

Moroccan recipe - the biggest differences are that the modern recipe

uses cumin, not caraway, generally substitutes lemon juice for the

vinegar, and often includes a bit of powdered red chili]



Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2002 15:22:53 -0800

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

Subject: [Sca-cooks] pre-Baghdadi Recipes in Waines - PT. 3


--- PART THREE ---


From Anahita




In a Caliph's Kitchen

David Waines

Riad El Rayyes Books Ltd.

56 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7NJ


ISBN 1-869844-60-2


See first message for explanation of format and info included here.




Maghmuma - pp. 94-95


WAINES: The word means simply 'covered', in reference to the bread

covering of the pot at the end of the preparation. Another version of

this dish is made in several layers, each on 'covering' the other.

This particular recipe was devised by Ibrahim ibn al-Madhi


ORIGINAL: Take fresh and tender asparagus and boil lightly, then cut

up into small pieces and remove. Take meat and cut up into small

pieces. Next from a chicken, remove the fat, the gizzard and liver

and after cleaning, add them to the pot, except the liver which may

be put in last. Pour over this washed oil and crushed chick peas,

ground salt, white of onion[,] fresh coriander and leeks all chopped

up. Pour in water just less than enough to cover the contents and

boil until cooked. When cooked, add the asparagus with chopped

walnuts, chopped cheese and pitted olives[,] adding as well dried

coriander and pepper. Take an egg and break it into a dish adding to

it also pepper and coriander. Beat vigorously. (The cheese and olives

have already been added to the pot before the egg is poured over top

and stirred in.) Add also some murri and cook until the contents dry

out. Next take bread loaf and cut round it so that it is the size of

the pot and fry it in oil until done. Then place it over the meat and

spices in the pot. If you wish, when emptying the pot, ladle the

contents onto the bread and serve, God willing.




Aruzz mufalfal - p. 98


I am including here Waines' comments on a dish from al-Baghdadi (i'm

not including al-Baghdadi's recipe)


WAINES: Plain rice dishes, was we know them, are not found in the

cooking manuals which may appear surprising given its widespread

consumption in medieval times. Possibly this is just a hint of the

fact that rice was regarded as poor man's fare. More likely, however,

is that rice was used as a thickening agent in other dishes, or

cooked with milk and meat as in Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi's recipe for

Aruzziya. This one is taken from the later cookbook of al-Baghdadi,

and comes closest to what today would be recognized as the usual

preparation of rice




Sumak summaqiya - pp. 100-101


WAINES: This recipe comes from the anonymous work which is in all

probability of Egyptian provenance. The dish takes its name from the

spice sumac which comes from the fruits of a wild Mediterranean bush,

the best qualities growing at the altitude in rocky, mountainous

areas away from the coasts. The fruits are dried, crushed and sieved,

forming a coarse-grained purple-red powder, the process alluded to in

the recipe itself. Sumac has a pleasant astringency owing to the

malic acid and is used as a souring agent in place of lemon or



ORIGINAL: One requires fresh fish, sumac, sesame seed paste, garlic,

pepper, onion, dried coriander, lemon (or candied lemon peel [hey

this is what Waines added]), hazelnuts, and sesame oil. Mince the

onion fine and fry it in oil. Sieve the sumac, grinding it and

processing it twice through the sieve until its effective properties

have been extracted. Then place the minced onion in a pan and grind

in all the other ingredients, adding over it the sesame seed paste

and the juice of lemon from which the seeds have been removed. Heat

until the mixture has boiled. Wash the fish, cut into large pieces

and add to the pan, boiling until done. Place the contents in a

vessel. Roast some hazelnuts and grind them adding them to the

surface of the dish and then serve.




'Ashiqua - pp. 102-013


WAINES: This is one of Ibrahim's preparations belonging to a group of

dishes called 'lover' or 'beloved' (ma'shuqa), referring to the

female of the pair. It is perhaps the most subtle of all his dishes

with a wide range of flavours and aromatic nuances.


ORIGINAL: Cut up bustard, or duck, or chicken. Then wash and clean

the bird. Put it in a pot with oil and chickpeas and salt. Onion and

fresh coriander are both chopped up and boiled and then the stock is

poured over the contents of the pot and cooked. Pound the meat of the

leg very fine together with fresh and dried coriander and onion and

al little pepper and cinnamon. When the foil is cooked, the ground up

ingredients are thrown in. Grind up almonds, walnuts, and pistachios

together mixed with the juice of unripe grapes and throw in. If you

desire to put in spinach or sarmaq, then do so.


[My Comments: i'm not sure what sarmaq is... I'll see if it's

mentioned in "Medieval Arab Cookery"]




Mutajjana Ibrahimya - pp. 106-107


WAINES: This preparation, attributed to Ibrahim ibn al-Madhi, is a

variation of a recipe which was a favourite of Ibrahim's great

nephew, the Caliph al-Wathiq who is also said to have compiled a

cookbook. It is unusual for the layered effect it is supposed to



ORIGINAL: Take one kaskari chicken or two young birds, remove all

their meat and from it make a thin cake and place it in a pot. With

the meat add a third of ratl of chopped onion and half uqiya of

chopped fresh coriander. Pour over this water to cover it to twice

its depth, a third of a ratl of pleasant oil and salt as required.

Place the pot on the fire until it comes well to the boil. Next take

truffles, of a variety suitable, as much as the weight of the meat

and cut them up in a fashion thicker than the cake and fry in the pot

until everything therein is cooked. Then add an amount of dried

coriander which the finger tips together can hold, pepper the weight

of one dirhem, ginger and galingal of each half a dirhem, and

cinnamon a dirhem. Stir. Take fifteen eggs, break them into a vessel

and beat them together with some fresh coriander and mint, both

chopped. Then pour into the pot and stir until the egg has broken up

and mixed with the cake and the truffles. Wash the sides of the pot

and cover it until required. Let the eggs be poured into the pot only

after it has been removed from the fire but before the boiling has

entirely ceased.


A preparation called Ibrahimi is made in the above manner except that

in it there is half a ratl of vinegar mixed with a dirhem's weight of

saffron. There is no salt except half a dirhem's weight and there is

a quarter ratl of murri al-Razi. The remainder of the preparation is

as above.




'Adasiya - pp. 108-109


WAINES: This dish is found in the earliest culinary manual compiled,

by al-Warraq. Named for its chief ingredient, the lentil ('adas),

which is probably the oldest cultivated legume and is native to

southwest Asia, possibly northern Syria and Iraq. The original recipe

calls for the inclusion of meat, but it can be prepared as well

without for those with vegetarian preferences. A variation of this

recipe suggests using beet root which could be substituted for the

fresh coriander.


ORIGINAL: You cook the meat with chopped onion in oil and when the

pot has been brought to the boil, and the scum removed, husked

lentils are thrown in and cooked thoroughly. Then you pour in vinegar

and spice it with coriander and cumin; throw in garlic (as well).

Whosoever wishes may throw in ground cheese; whosoever wishes may

colour it yellow wit saffron. Throw in beet root without the cheese

and garlic. Whosoever wishes may throw in something sweet.




'Ijja Mu'tamidiya - pp. 110-111


WAINES: This recipe for medieval omelette has been taken from what is

likely the only surviving Egyptian culinary work which is, however,

anonymous and undated. The recipe is named after someone called

Mu'tamid, a name carried by a number of Caliphs or wazirs. The

physician al-Razi recommends using oil in the cooking of omelettes

rather than clarified butter (samn) because oil is lighter and make

the food easier to digest. He also suggests using only the egg yolks

rather than the whites, again for the sake of digestion.


ORIGINAL: Take the breasts of two young fowl and slice the meat

finely; take a ratl of meat and slice it similarly. Wash the meat and

pout it into a pot on the fire. Pour a ratl of oil into the pot and

two dirhems of salt. Boil until nearly cooked. Then take a quarter

ratl of cheese, slice it, and add it to the pot with the meat. Season

with two dirhems of dried coriander and a dirhem each of pepper and

cinnamon. Add ten olives, pitted. Break into the container twenty

eggs and pour an uqiya of murri over them, beating them vigorously.

Stir the contents of the pot and leave on the fire until firm. Then

pour over it the egg. Chop up some rue over it. Remove and serve.




Aruzziya - pp. 112-113


WAINES: Rice cooked in milk seems plain enough, but with the

additional flavours of the smoked beef and the fatty pieces of lamb,

this dish is one of Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi's more unusual creations.

The curing of meat by smoking was an operation often performed in the

domestic kitchen. Here the intention seems to be less a process of

slow, low-temperature cooking than a complex chemical treatment of

the meat by smoke which is finished off by means of frying.


ORIGINAL: Take red meat from the lower thighs and also from the tail

fat and cut both into fine thin slices. Then smoke the meat until it

is well done. Next take a pot and pour oil into it and when sizzling,

throw into it the tail and the smoked meat and fry until cooked. Then

sprinkle salt and water over it but do not use murri so as not to

spoil it. Next, take a large pot and pour fresh milk into it half

full and boil, when at the boil throw in a stick of galingal,

cinnamon and salt as much as needed. Then take the rice and wash it

very well and add it to the milk. When cooked through take the fired

meat and its oil, add to the pot and stir in vigorously and serve,

God willing.




Mubazzar - pp. 114-115


WAINES: Literally, this dish means 'seasoned with spices' (abazir).

The effect of the preparation is to make spicy, but somewhat dry,

pieces of meat which go well either with a rice accompaniment or

mixed in with the rice itself. A recipe of Ibrahim ibn al-Madhi.


ORIGINAL: Take a side of lamb and stew it in good strong vinegar

until it is half done. Remove from the fire and leave it in its

vinegar until it has cooled off. Then remove the meat from the

vinegar and firmly express its juices. Then throw over it coriander,

cumin, pepper and cinnamon each ground. Then lower the meat into the

oven and leave until it has lost its moisture.


[My Comments: So, is this just cooked meat with all the moisture

cooked out or a sort of proto-jerky?


In Java in Indonesia, women take meat, cook it, cool it, cut it in

very very thin slices, rub it well with a tasty ground spice blend,

then place it in frames fitted with screens (and topped with another

screen to keep out the flies) on the roof and leave until dried out.

This takes a few days - it is brought in at night or if it's rainy,

so that it doesn't get moist. It is not eaten as it, however, but

cooked with a small amount of water to soften, then shredded as a

condiment and eaten with rice.]




Fustaqiya - pp. 116-117


WAINES: This dish takes its name from the pistachio nut (fustuq). A

very simple dish to prepare, it comes from the early collection of

recipes compiled by al-Warraq. The pistachio nut,which is native to

Iraq and Iran, is a relative of the cashew, which might be

substituted if pistachios are not readily available.


ORIGINAL: Take the breasts of chickens, and half boil in water and a

little salt. Drain off the water, and take the flesh off the bones,

pulling it into threads. Then put back into the saucepan, covering

with water. Take peeled pistachios as required and pound in the

mortar. Put into the saucepan and stir, boiling. When almost cooked,

throw in as much sugar as pistachios. Keep stirring until set; then



[My Comments:

First: Whoa! I really don't agree about substituting cashews for

pistachios! Such a huge difference in flavor and texture! While they

are also nothing alike, i'd suggest either hazelnuts/filberts or

walnuts, since both of these two nuts are used in other Near Eastern



Second: So does this 9th century recipe remind anyone a bit of

blancmange or migraust?]




Bustaniya - pp. 118-119


WAINES: This is a preparation of one Abu Samin about whom nothing is

known for certain but who may have been a professional chef in the

employ of the Caliph al-Wathiq. If so, Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi would

surely have known of his skills. His name which means "Father of

Corpulence', or 'obesity' if one is being less kind, seem appropriate

to his profession. The dish is named not after any particular

ingredient, as was the custom, but after the orchard (bustan) from

which the selection of fruits was made.


ORIGINAL: Take small sour pears, wash and wrap in a moist cloth if

they are dried pears, but if they are fresh, then macerate them in

water and strain through a sieve. Then take chicken breasts, and cut

them lengthwise into finger-sized strips and add to it as much meat

as you wish. Next throw in peaches and boil (with the meat). Season

the pot with pepper and ma'kamakh, oil and some spices, some sugar,

wine vinegar, and five almonds ground up fine; add to the pot. Then

break eggs over (the contents) and allow to settle, God willing.


[My Comments: One of the dishes I cooked as "Iron Chef Persian",

although I left out the ma'kamakh]


<the end>

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