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fd-Africa-msg - 4/15/10


Period food of northern Africa. Moroccan food. Tangine.


NOTE: See also the files: Africa-msg, blacks-msg, Italy-msg, fd-Byzantine-msg, fd-Mid-East-msg, fd-Greece-msg, fd-Turkey-msg, fd-Morocco-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: Wed, 14 Jul 1999 02:24:09 -0500

From: Robert Gonzalez <robgonzo at cwix.com>

Subject: Re: SC - tagine?


>What's a tagine? Is this a period term as well as a modern one? Is

>there a differance between what they were then and now?


>Lord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra


A tajine is a morracan dish. and also the name of the ceramic cookware in

which the dish is cooked and served.

I am not sure how  far back it goes but it is very basic so it seems that it

can go back quite a bit.

morrocan cooking and tajines in particular are characterized by their use of

fruits and vegtables along with meats in a thick stew or more like a gravy.

I've seen all sorts of combinations some even using fish as the meat.

the main thing tho is the use of several exotic spices.

This is a good link for more on moroccan cooking.



and here is a Tajine recipe I got from David Rosengarten's show Taste. on

the food network.

BTW the Ras el Hanout mentioned is a spice blend which varies from place to

place. It means basically the best of the shop. meaning that if you go to a

spice store and ask for ras el hanout you will get a blend of the top 15 or

20 spices in the store. In the show David made a blend which include a few

basic things like annise and cinnomon as well as some more exotic items like

rose buds and orange blossom. unfortunately the web Food Network website did

not give the ingredients of that blend. Should have taped that one...

One of these days I'll get the guts to try this at an event or something. If

someone does please let me know how it goes.

Buena Suerte!

Roberto Maroquin de Aragon

Bjornsborg, Ansteorra



(Adapted from Paula Wolfert Recipe)

3 pounds boned lamb shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces

3 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/8 teaspoon ground saffron

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout, if desired

1/4 cup grated onion

5 sprigs fresh cilantro, tied with string

1 cup thinly sliced onion

I pound pitted prunes, soaked in cold water for 15 minutes

1/2 cup honey

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut in 2-inch pieces

1/2 cup orange flower water

2 cinnamon sticks

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Trim excess fat from meat.

In a bowl combine the butter, oil, saffron, turmeric, pepper, ginger, Ras el

Hanout, and onion. Dip meat in mixture to completely coat and add to

casserole set over moderate heat. Cook meat, turning, until no longer pink.

Add enough water to just cover meat and the cilantro, bring to a boil and

simmer, covered, 1 hour. Add sliced onions and simmer 30 minutes longer. Add

drained prunes and simmer, uncovered, until sauce is reduced to 1 cup.

Arrange squash in a fresh pan. Add orange flower water, honey and cinnamon

sticks. Simmer 15 minutes undisturbed. Reduce cooking liquid over high heat

until syrupy. Return to casserole and simmer 5 minutes, or until squash is


To serve: transfer meat to a serving dish, spoon sauce with onion and prunes

over it and garnish with the squash. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serve

over Couscous.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Recommended drink: Green Tea



Date: Wed, 14 Jul 1999 12:39:42 -0700

From: lilinah at grin.net

Subject: Re: SC - tagine?


Roberto Maroquin de Aragon wrote:


>here is a Tajine recipe I got from David Rosengarten's show Taste. on

>the food network.

<snipped and moved>

>(Adapted from Paula Wolfert Recipe)


I highly recommend Paula Wolfert's cook books, any of them:

       Mediterranean Cooking

       The Cooking of South-West France

       The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean


I am especially fond of the Moroccan one, although it is not at all "period":

       Couscous and Other Good Foods from Morocco

       copyright 1973

       Harper and Row

       ISBN 0-06-014721-0


>BTW the Ras el Hanout mentioned is a spice blend which varies from place to

>place. It means basically the best of the shop. meaning that if you go to a

>spice store and ask for ras el hanout you will get a blend of the top 15 or

>20 spices in the store. In the show David made a blend which include a few

>basic things like annise and cinnomon as well as some more exotic items like

>rose buds and orange blossom. unfortunately the web Food Network website did

>not give the ingredients of that blend. Should have taped that one...


In "Couscous and Other Good Foods from Morocco", she has a discussion of

ras el hanout.


I asked some time ago if anyone know if ras el hanout was period, and if so

did anyone have a recipe, but got only resounding silence in return. So,

here's what Paula has to say about Ras (head) el Hanout (of the shop):


(begin quoted section)

p. 24  "Ras el hanout, which means, literally, "top of the shop," seems to

fascinate everyone, foreigners and Moroccans alike. It is a very old

mixture of many spices, sometimes ten, sometimes nineteen, sometimes

twenty-six; Moroccans have told me of a ras el hanout that contained more

than a hundred ingredients.


It is incorrest to think of ras el hanout as a curry powder by another

name, It lacks the abundance of fenugreek, coriander seeds, mustard seeds,

poppy seeds, and cumin of commercial curry. Though theoretically almost

anything is permissible in ras el hanout-even dried garlic and

saffon-obviously some mixtures are better than others. The aphrodisiacs

(Spanish fly, ash berries, and monk's pepper) that appear in most formulae

seem to be the reason why the mere mention of this mixture will put a gleam

into a Moroccan cook's eye.


Ras el hanout is used in Moroccan game dishes' in mrouzia (Lamb Tagine with

Raisins, Almonds, and Honey, p. 286), a sweet lamb dish; in the hashhish

candy called Majoun (p. 314); in various rice and couscous stuffings; and

even in some recipes for bisteeya. I bought a packet in the Attarine

quarter of Fez, where it si sold in brut form, and after a long analysis, a

friend in New York who is a spice merchant and I came up with the following

list of ingredients:



Ash berries (Holarrhen, called lissan ettir in Morocco. A tan, elongated

spice that looks like a bird's tongue and is alleged to have strong

medicinal and aphrodisiacal properties.)

Belladonna leaves

Black cummin seeds (Nigella arvensis sativa, called habet el soudane in


       [Anahita's note: i think this is called kalonji in India]

Black peppercorns

Cantharides (Lytta vesicatoria, called debbal el hand in Morocco. The very

sight of these green, metallic beetles, called "Spanish fly" terrifies me)

Cardamom pods (Eletteria cardamomum, called qaqual in Morocco)

Wild cardamom pods (Eletteria cardamomum, var. major, called abachi in

Morocco, and popularly known as "bitter black cardamom"...)

       [Anahita's note: you can sometimes find these in Indian shops]


Cassia cinnamon

Ceylon cinnamon


Coriander seed

Cubeb pepper

Earth almonds (Cyperus esculentus, called tara soudania in Morocco... a

perfumed chestnut taste)

Galingal (Alpinia galanga, called kedilsham in Morocco... In Indonesia it

is frequently used, and is called laos)


Gouza el asnab (...a kind of nut...I have not been able to identify its

botanical name and am indebted to the Fez bookbook of Mme. Z. Guinaudea for

being able to identify it at all)

Grains of paradise

Long pepper



Monk's pepper (Agnus castus, called kheroua in Morocco. Another potent






[Anahita's note: i have not included all her excellent notes on most of the

spices, only on those that are a bit obscure, or this would be much longer

- - of course what's obscure to one person may be commonplace to another - if

you have more questions, i'll selectively quote more of her notes.]


p. 26  With a  Moroccan girl who lives in New York, I worked out an

American formula for ras el hanout that obviously lacks some of the rare

Moroccan items like cubeb peppers and the aphrodisiacs. Nevertheless, it's

a pretty good approximation.


Try to make it yourself if you want; your blender will undoubtedly survive

all these nuts, sticks, barks, and seeds, but the aroma will linger on--ras

el hanout is strong. (Follow with a separate grinding of cane sugar and

your blender will be clear and clean). Grind the following ingredients in a

blender until you obtain a fine mix, then sieve:


4 whole nutmegs 1/2 tsp. lavender

10 rosebuds     1 Tb. white peppercorns

12 cinnamon sticks      2 pieces of galangal

12 blades mace  2 Tb. whole gingerroot

1 tsp. aniseed  6 cloves

8 pieces turmeric       24 allspice berries

2 small pieces orrisroot        20 white or green cardamom pods

2 dried cayenne peppers 4 wild (black) cardamom pods


[Anahita's note: because of the good services of fellow listee and spice

merchant, Francisco Sirene (or your other preferred spice merchant) we here

have the option of adding both kinds of cinnamon, black cummin, grains of

paradise, and long pepper, if we want to experiment ourselves. And you may

want to "bump up" the amount of cayenne a little.]


p. 27  A rather simple recipe for ras el hanout--although far less

thrilling to make or use--can be made with the following formula (buying in

ounces from a spice merchant and grinding at home):


1/2 ounce allspice berries      1-1/2 ounces dried gingerroot

1 ounce black peppercorns       1/2 ounce stick cinnamon

1/2 ounce galingal or laos roots        1/4 ounce turmeric

1/2 ounce mace blades   3 rosebuds

1-1/2 whole nutmegs             1 clove

10 cardomom pods


(end quoted section)


Happy eating,


Anahita Gaouri bint-Karim al-hakim al-Fassi



Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2000 17:42:26 -0500

From: "Daniel Phelps" <phelpsd at gate.net>

Subject: Re: SC - OOP? Question what is a Tagine?


My copy of "The International Cook's Catalogue" has a entry on Tajines;



"In Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria a tajine is a savory stew of fish, meat or

poultry. The variety is endless---- a tajine can be a subtle red snapper

ragout , an assertive melange of mutton and quince, or a perfumed blend of

chicken with preserved lemons.


A tajine is slowly simmered in a tajine slaoui, a round, shallow,

flat-bottomed earthenware dish with a high conical lid.  The lid fits snugly

into a lip in the dish so that steam and flavor cannot escape during

cooking. "


It goes on to describe dining customs and the dimensions of individual

tajine slaoui of of which they show both a "for use" and a "serving piece

only". Best you check to see if what they are selling can be put in the

oven. Oddly enough they provide a recipe for "Lamb Tagine with Fried

Eggplant" in which they use the alternative spelling you provided.  They

cribbed it from "Couscous and other Good Food from Morocco"  by Paula

Wolfert ISBN: 0-06-091396-7.  My copy of her book shows numerous beef,

lamb, veal, chicken, and fish dishes.  As I understand that it is still

currently in print you might stop by B&N or what have you and check it out.

What price do they have on the tagine?  My 1977 ICC shows a price of $30.00

for the "for use" version and $36.00 for the highly decorated "serving only"



Daniel Raoul le Vascon de Navarre', who as he has not had his din din can be

called, The Hungry.



Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 05:54:43 EDT

From: <DianaFiona at aol.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Food book West African Middle Ages


MelanieWilson at bigfoot.com writes:


Of no real interest to me, but I can across this title that might interest

some of you !

West African food in the Middle Ages by Lewicki T

Mel >>


   If this is the one I'm thinking of, it's a scholar's treatise rather than

a recipe book. I ran across one with a title something like this a couple of

years ago when our shire did an event with a West African theme, and the lady

doing the feast managed to get an ILL of the volume I found. This was one of

the cases where putting together a feast involved *lots* of speculation and

correlation's between the info we could get on the foods available at the

target time/place and modern ethnic recipes from the same area. She did huge

amounts of research and came up with a great meal. Not one that could be

considered really period, of course, due to the sparsity of info, but still a

wonderful use of the available resources..................


           Ldy Diana



Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2007 01:43:17 -0700 (PDT)

From: Huette von Ahrens <ahrenshav at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] African dish

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


--- Sarah Fitzpatrick <fitz at ccountry.net> wrote:

> There is an northern African dish (Algeria?) with the crust made of a soft

> dough dabbed on a hot pan (a wok like turned upside dowm over the heat

> source) then pealed off and stacked. The pie is made of chicken, almonds

> layers of dough and I forget what else.  Maybe 10 sheets, filling and

> repeat. It is in the Time Life Cookbook for Africa.

> Sarah


I believe that the "hot pan" you are thinking of is a tajine or tagine, which is a ceramic pan with a ceramic cone-shaped chimney to bake or stew foods without  

having to stir them.  Almost all the North African tajines are ceramic, but there are metal ones made in America and Europe using the same principles.


Also, the recipe that you are thinking of is Moroccan and is called bstilla or bistilla or bisteeya or pastilla.  It is believed to have come to Morocco from

Andalucia. And the pastry used is called "trid".  According to Claudia Roden in her new book called "Arabesque", pages 66 through 68.  Claudia Roden is a very noted food historian who specializes in Mediterranian foods.  Her new book covers Moroccan, Turkish and Lebanese foods.





Date: Sat, 18 Apr 2009 14:39:09 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnnae at mac.com>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] West African Food in the Middle Ages

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


West African Food in the Middle Ages: According to Arabic Sources by Tadeusz Lewicki

There is now a paperback edition of this title. The 1974 hardback has long been OP. Published by Cambridge University Press on March 5, 2009.

ISBN-10:0521102022 ISBN-13:978-0521102025


"It is important for historians studying West Africa before the sixteenth

century, particularly social and economic historians, to know what the

basic foods were before the arrival of crops from the Americas such as

maize, cassava, ground nuts, red peppers and tomatoes. Medieval Arabic

historians and geographers recorded a great deal of information about

social and economic life in Africa during the period and this is a

full-scale attempt to make use of the material related to foodstuffs and

the preparation of the food. The references collected from the Arabic

texts are interpreted in the light of the work of modern ethnographers

and the descriptions given by travellers in more recent times."

Contents: 1. Arabic sources for the history of the foodstuffs used by

West African peoples; 2. Vegetable foodstuffs; 3. Meat and fish; 4.

Other foodstuffs; 5. Utensils.





Date: Sat, 18 Apr 2009 16:24:14 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] West African Food in the Middle Ages

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


<<< "It is important for historians studying West Africa before the sixteenth

century, particularly social and economic historians, to know what the

basic foods were before the arrival of crops from the Americas such as

maize, cassava, ground nuts, red peppers and tomatoes.

Johnnae >>>


The ground nuts reference caught me by surprise until I realized they were

referring to Arachis hypogea, the peanut.   Vigna subterranea, the Bambara

or African groundnut, is the indigenous ground nut of West Africa and it is

a basic food stuff in Africa.


Looks like a book I want to add to the collection.




<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