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fd-Arabs-msg - 3/2/14


Foods of the medieval Arabs.


NOTE: See also the files: E-Arab-recip-art, fd-Morocco-msg, fd-Turkey-msg, ME-revel-fds-art, murri-msg, fd-Jewish-msg, hais-msg, Islamic-Pudng-art, Islam-alcohol-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, 15 Apr 2002 21:12:45 -0700

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org, "Cindy M. Renfrow" <cindy at thousandeggs.com>

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Memos from a Mastic Marathon....


I must be the only one here who purchased "Medieval Arab Cookery" and

actually read it :-)


>  >What is "blattes de Bysance"?

>This was the topic of a long discussion on rec.food.historic back in '99.

>Some folks confused this with cochineal.

>a.k.a. onycha

>    "the fingernail-like operculum or closing flap of certain snails

>    of the murex family, such as the Onyx marinus, Strombus lentiginosus,

>    or Unguis Odaratus (Tifereth Yisrael, Chomer Bakodesh 2:67; Cf. Ben

>    Sirah 24:15, Dioscorides, De Materia Medica 2:10). This emits a very

>    pleasant smell when burned."



Nope, they weren't using snail trap doors in their cooking. The

recently published book "Medieval Arab Cookery" corrects this error.


Here's how the error came about:

In editing the manuscript of Baghdadi's cookbook, Dr. Da'ud Chelebi

came across the term "atraf al-tib". He did not understand the phrase

and therefore assumed it was a scribal error, amending it to read

azfar al-tib, which lead to Arberry's mistranslation as "blattes de

Bysance", "Byzantine cockroaches" or as "perfumed nails" of the onyx

(the sea creature).


Here is how it was corrected:

In fact Atrab al-tib was the correct phrase. It is a spice blend

which appears in Kitab al-wusla ila al-habib fi wasf al-tayyibat wa

al-tib, "The Book of the Bonds of Friendship or a desctiption of good

dishes and perfumes", sometimes called The Book of the Link of the



Here's the list of ingredients in Maxime Rodinson's essay "Studies in

Arabic Manuscripts", from his analysis of "Wusla ila al-Habib", on p.

132 of "Medieval Arab Cookery":




bay leaves











Here's the list of ingredients as translated by Charles Perry, on p.

484 in "Medieval Arab Cookery"


spikenard (note difference in translation between Rodinson and Perry

- i've used both lavender and spikenard in recipes, so i don't have

an opinion, although i lean toward Rodinson)


laurel leaf





rose hips (note difference in translation between Rodinson and Perry

- i believe Rodinson here)

common ash (again note difference in translation between Rodinson and

Perry - i think i believe Rodinson here)

long pepper (Rodinson leaves this out)





As for the discussion of using cochineal to color food, i find none

in any recipes in "Medieval Arab Cookery", however, *madder* is used

to color a fish dish, "The Making of Good Sahna", in a recipe from

"Wusla ila al-habib", on p. 484 of "Medieval Arab Cookery"





Date: Mon, 15 Apr 2002 21:25:35 -0700

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Memos from a Mastic Marathon....


Phlip wrote:

>On many of the Arabic recipes, there was the suffix,

>"iya", as in: Burinya, Tuffahiya, Madira, Raihaniya,

>Rutabiya, Labaniya, Hisrimiya, Halawiya, Rummaniya,

>Sumaqiya, Limuwiya, Mamquriya, Hubaishiya,


>Narenjiya, Masliya, Isfankiya, Rukhamiya, Itriya,

>Muhallibiya, Anbariya, Mishmishiya, Safarjaliya,

>Narenjiya, Fahtiya, Burniya, Basaliya, Raihaniya,

>Nurjisiya, Nujumiya, Buraniya al-Qar, Khudairiya,

>Makhfiya, Dinariya, and Rutabiya.

>Does this suffix have a particular meaning? Most of

>the above are some variant of lamb or red meat, but I

>think there were others which weren't, with that

>suffix. Also, was wondering if the "ija" in

>"Mudaqqaqat Sadhija" might be a variant of the "iya".

>Margali says that "iya" means "in the style of" much

>as the French "a la" does. Is that it, or is it an

>indicator of something else?


Like so many languages other than English, Arabic has masculine and

feminine gender for words, a terminology which confuses people, let's

say, blue and red color, and "iya" is the feminine, err, i mean red,

ending so that nouns and adjectives agree in gender, i mean color.


In the titles of food dishes it seems to be an adjective. In certain

names, it means it features a particular ingredient: as Thumiyya,

which means "Garlicy", that is featuring garlic, and "Tuffahiya"

which is "Apple-y", that is featuring apples. Rummaniya would feature

Pomegranates, Sumaqiya would feature sumac, Safarjaliya would feature

quinces, Labaniya would feature laban, sort of yogurt-cream cheese,



Or i suppose once could use "-like", as Mishmishiya, which is meat

balls shaped like apricots, thus "apricot-like". And "Bustaniyya",

which is "Orchardy", that is "Orchard-like", the Persian dish I

cooked that had almonds, pears, and peaches, all from the orchard.


Of the two Mishmishiya dishes with different ingredients, one

features apricots, fitting my first "definition", and the other,

well, there it is as an example of my second "definition".





Date: Sun, 18 Sep 2005 20:24:37 -0400

From: Lee Sebastiani <valeriavictrix at mac.com>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Has anyone translated these new recipes into


To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


I could probably manage the French, but.............




--Lee Sebastiani


Link: http://www.slowfood.com/eng/sf_sloweb/fuori_guscio/8fuori_EN.html



  From the archives to the kitchen. A translators recipes


Lilia Zaouali


For five centuries, the secrets of the imperial cuisine of Ottoman Turkey escaped the curiosity of scholars. The reason? They were hidden away in a neglected fifteenth-century manuscript whose real value had been underestimated. Careful reading of the document - wrongly believed to be a mere translation of the celebrated thirteenth-century Arab cookery manual Kitb al-Tabkh by al-Baghdadi - brought to light as many as 82 recipes. The first part of the manuscript  in fact consist of a translation from Arabic to Turkish of the recipes of al-Baghdadi, but the ones from no. 74 onward are the personal contribution of the translator turned author, Mehmed bin Mahmoud of Azerbaijan. This part of the document thus bridges gaps in documents on the cooking of the Ottoman empire in its period of greatest splendor.


By Stefane Yerasimos, a lecturer

at the Paris-VIII University and author of numerous books on Turkey and

the Ottoman Empire.


A la table du Grand Turc Editions

Actes Sud, from the Orient Gourmand / Sindbad series , Arles



22.8 euros



Date: Sun, 18 Sep 2005 21:02:37 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Has anyone translated these new recipes into


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


I don't find it listed as being translated into

an English or American edition.


It can be ordered from Amazon Canada.




Lee Sebastiani wrote:

> I could probably manage the French, but.............

> --Lee Sebastiani

> Link: http://www.slowfood.com/eng/sf_sloweb/fuori_guscio/

> 8fuori_EN.html

>  Stefane Yerasimos,

> A la table du Grand Turc Editions

> Actes Sud, from the Orient Gourmand / Sindbad series , Arles

> 2001

> 22.8 euros



Date: Mon, 26 Sep 2005 22:53:44 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] A Baghdad Cookery Book in 2006

To: "mk-cooks at midrealm.org" <mk-cooks at midrealm.org>,       Cooks within the

        SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


I am reminded that I have a number of forthcoming books

to mention. Time to play librarian.

I have already mentioned Ann Hagen's combined edition.


Also Coming in 2006


A Baghdad Cookery Book

by Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Baghdadi, a new translation by Charles Perry


Al-Baghdadi's Kitab al-Tabikh was for long the only medieval Arabic

Cookery book known to the English-speaking world, thanks to A.J

Arberry's path-breaking 1939 translation as `A Baghdad Cookery Book'

which was re-issued by Prospect Books in 2001 in Medieval Arab Cookery.

For centuries, it has been the favourite Arab cookery book of the Turks.

The original manuscript is still in Istanbul, and at some point a

Turkish sultan commissioned a very handsome copy which can still be seen

in The British Library in London. In the twentieth century the Iraqui

scholar, Daoud Chelebi, produced a modern transcription which served as

the basis for Arberry's translation. Charles Perry has re-visited the

manuscript and discovered many possible errors and amendments that

affect the interpretation of these essential recipes for the

understanding of medieval Arab cookery. He has produced a new Enlish

translation incorporating these ammendments and fully annotating his

variations with the 'authorised' version. Scholars will now have a

definitive text on which to work. They will also have this text in an

inexpensive and handy format, just the thing for a learned lady's

handbag. 128p (Prospect Books February 2006)


ISBN 1903018420. Paperback. Not yet published - advance orders taken.

Price US $19.95



Johnnae llyn Lewis



Date: Mon, 26 Sep 2005 23:02:43 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] A Baghdad Cookery Book in 2006

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

        "mk-cooks at midrealm.org" <mk-cooks at midrealm.org>


Turns out that those of us who subscribe to PPC will be receiving this

as a special issue of the journal.


Tom Jaine wrote:


In early September we will be publishing a new translation by Charles

Perry of Al Baghdadi's 'Kitab al-Tabikh', under the title of A Baghdad

Cookery Book. The format will be the same as Petits Propos Culinaires

(PPC), the price will be GBP10.00, the ISBN 1-903018-420. This will in

fact be a special issue of PPC, i.e. PPC no.79, but will also be

commercially available as a stand-alone book. PPC subscribers are of

course getting it at a bargain price. Charles Perry has been to Istanbul

to inspect the manuscripts of Al Baghdadi's masterwork (hitherto

available in Arberry's translation which we reprinted in Medieval Arab

Cookery of 2001) and he has come up with a more accurate, and more

nuanced, version. This will be a big day for Arabic food history.


The rest can buy it next year I guess.





Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2006 09:45:09 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Indian Books was Partial Mughal Cookbook

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


Ok I admit I googled the title and I have been happily caught up in

browsing a few Indian bookstores

and now I have a list to ponder over. Lots of odd things like this  



*Royal Dishes of Baghdad/translated from Arabic by A.J. Arberry. *Delhi,

Global Vision, 2003, xviii,120 p., (pbk). ISBN 81-87746-59-9.


https://www.vedamsbooks.com/index.htm seems slightly higher but it's

very easy to browse.

Also http://www.alltimebooks.com/shop/






Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2006 18:30:04 -0700

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Boiled, Stuffed and Roasted Chicken Recipe

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


Aislinn asked:

> Is there any cooking technique like this during the Middle Ages in the

> Arabic countries? I haven't tried this recipe, although it sounds like a

> terrific way to make sure the chicken is cooked at feast. This would even

> work for Saxon-style cooking over a campfire, boiling the chicken first

> then skewering it and toasting the outside.

> Boiled, Stuffed and Roasted Chicken Recipe

> Boiling the chicken first produces a moist and succulent chicken.The

> stuffing is like having an extra meal out of the chicken!  Experiment with

> your favourite spices. Imperial ounces are used for this. This recipe

> comes from A New Book of Middle Eastern Food.


Many recipes in the Arabic language cookbooks and among the Ottoman

Turkish recipes call for two stage cooking, but i don't recall any

three stage recipes... i need to go look.


For red meat, most of the time the cut up meat is browned first in

melted fat from the tail of the fat tail sheep. Then liquid is added

and the meat is boiled/simmered. Other meats may be added. Some

recipes call for sheep meat cut up with a later addition of sheep

meatballs. Some recipes include both sheep and chicken meat.


For chicken, i don't recall chicken being browned first. Several

recipes call for boiling the chicken until done, then cutting it up

or jointing it, and then frying it in butter or oil. Then it is

finished with a sauce.


In a limited number of dishes the meat is roasted, but this seems a

bit more "rustic" or what may be done on particular holidays. For the

urbane and sophisticated, it should have plenty of tasty ingredients

and generally a sauce.


There are some stuffed chicken recipes, and sometimes they involve

inserting the stuffing between the skin and the meat...


I'll have to look through my books to see if there are any that are

actually roasted after boiling.


Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)

the persona formerly known as Anahita



Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 19:09:55 -0400 (EDT)

From: "Daniel And elizabeth phelps " <dephelps at embarqmail.com>

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

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Extreme Cuisine; Arabian


An article of possible interest that you will not see referenced in Saudi Aramco World



<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