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fd-Persia-msg - 12/15/14


Food of medieval Persia. References.


NOTE: See also the files: fd-Byzantine-msg, fd-Mid-East-msg, fd-Turkey-msg, cookbooks-msg, books-food-msg, cookbooks-bib, merch-cookbks-msg, rice-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: Fri, 01 Dec 2000 23:57:52 +0100

From: TG <gloning at Mailer.Uni-Marburg.DE>

Subject: Re: SC - Persian cooking


<< But, would they have used much rice at all in period? >>


Adam Olearius who travelled from Germany to Persia in 1635-39 in a

diplomatic mission reports about many dinners and banquets. Rice seems

to have played a very important role:


"Die Sch¸sseln waren alle mit auffgewalletem Reifl angef¸llet/ vnd oben

mit gesottenem Schafffleisch/ gebratenen H¸nern/ Eyerkuchen/ gekochten

Spinat ... beleget ... Neben solchen gedachten quotlibet Speisen/ wurden

auch absonderliche Sch¸sseln mit Reifl von mancherley Farben gesetzet"

(ed. 1656, p. 511).

Upshot: the dishes were filled with rice with the other stuff on top of

it; in addition there were separate dishes with rice in different



In his short chapter on Persian food and drink he says among other


"Jhr principal Gericht/ so sie jhnen allezeit zuerst vortragen lassen/

ist schlechter auffgewalleter Reifl/ welchen sie Plau nennen/ worauff in

gemein gekocht Schafffleisch lieget. Sie richten auch den Reifl auff

vnterschiedliche art zu/ vermischen jhn mit Corinthen/ Mandelen/ f‰rben

jhn mit Safft von Granaten/ oder Kirschen/ Jtem mit Saffran/ ... Sie

belegen auch den Reifl mit gebratenen H¸nern vnd Fischen/ ... Sie essen

zwar den Reifl an statt des Brodts/ aber haben gleichwol auch

vnterschiedliche arten von Brodt/ so von Weitzen gebacken: ..." (p. 594f.)

Upshot: their main dish (_plau_) is based on rice; there are many other

ways to prepare rice ...; they use rice instead of bread, however, they

have also different kinds of bread ...


Other information includes: the use of wine, coffee, tea, fruits,

eggplants ("Noch eine vns Deutschen vnbekante Frucht haben sie/

Padintzan genandt/ ... Es wird nicht roh gegessen/ weil sie etwas

bitter/ aber gekocht/ vnd in Butter gebraten sol ein delicat essen

seyn"; p. 576 'In addition they have a fruit that is unknown in Germany

(!!) called Padintzan [=Badinjan, eggplant], the fruit is not eaten

uncooked, because it is somewhat bitter, rather the fruit is cooked and

fried in butter, and it is said to be a quite delicat dish') and so



There are earlier travelogues of this kind.





From: "Jim and Andi" <icbhod at home.com>

To: <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

Subject: RE: [Sca-cooks] black sugar

Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2002 01:38:41 -0600


stefan at texas.net writes:

> They fed the unrefined sugar to horses? Or the sugar cane? Or really

> just what remained after crushing the sugar cane?


Nope, it says in _Food and Drinks in Mughal India_ "The jagre was available

in such abundance that it was given even to horses" pg 40, under "Sugar" and

the reference is from Manrique, 1629.





Date: Mon, 16 May 2005 09:15:57 -0700

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Rumi, was FW: Turkish Recipe

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


Rumi's dates are given as 1207-1273, that's thirteenth century,

despite a reviewer's confusion.


He was actually Persian and wrote his poetry in Persian, primarily,

and Arabic, secondarily, not in Turkish, as far as i can tell. It's

hard to find his personal name, it may have been Muhammed. Jalal

al-Din, sometimes written Jalaladin or Jalaluddin, was his Sufi

title, and the name by which he was usually known.


His family lived in Balkh when he was young. That's now in

Afghanistan, but it was a major cultural center in the eastern

Persian Empire throughout SCA period. His father, Muhammad ibn

Hussain Khatibi, whose Sufi title was Baha' al-Din Walad, was a well

regarded Sufi at the time. The family moved westward in Persia to

Nishapour when Rumi was around 12, possibly due to pressure from

invaders, and eventually moved to Baghdad, where the primary spoken

and literary language was Arabic. The family went on the hajj

(pilgrimage to Mecca), then moved to the city of Konya in

south-central Anatolia, at the request of the ruler who wanted Rumi's

father as a teacher.


"Rumi" was Arabic for "Roman". Byzantium was called "Rum", meaning

"Rome", which the Byzantines considered themselves to be the

continuation of. Konya is in an area that had been part of the

Byzantine Empire. Konya had earlier been part of Byzantium, then had

been incorporated into the Seljuk Turkish Empire. By the time of

Rumi's life, it was an independent "kingdom", after the Seljuk Empire

came apart at the end of the 12th century, known as Rum. "Rumi" means

"of Rum" or "from Rum" and was added to his name

   He became popularly known as Rumi in the 19th century.


As for being best-selling poet in America, this is the case in the

past decade or so. Here in NoCal, there are frequent nights of Rumi,

either readings or readings with music, and lectures by various

translators and re-workers of his writings, such as Coleman Barks or

Shahram Shiva, are packed to the rafters.


I haven't been able to find any information about a dietary manual,

although i have found a site that lists the foods he mentions in his

poems. I don't know if this is accurate, as far as Rumi's poetry

goes, but the food list is pretty accurate for the 9th-15th century

Arabic language recipes i have, some of which are of Persian origin.



Urtatim, formerly Anahita



Date: Thu, 16 Jun 2005 13:59:51 -0700

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Question & Artemisian Iron Chef

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


Jeanne P / Casamira <jeannecas at gmail.com>

> I need some good period sources for Chinese / Persian cooking that

> show which ingredients were used in period.

> Was Coconut milk ever used?  Can it be documented?

> I know it's not part of Mediterianian, French or English medieval

> fare.


Well, i haven't run across Chinese Persian cooking :-)


But i have found information about Persian cooking in two books.


One is the inestimable "Medieval Arab Cookery". While none of the

cookbooks therein are Persian, Charles Perry has footnoted

extensively, pointing out the Persian linguistic and cultural roots

of many of the recipes. There are also quite a few essays by Perry

discussing specific styles or ingredients, and many of them touch on

Persian cooking. I find this book to be invaluable.


The other is a recently published Indian cookbook with Persian

content, The Ni'matnama Manuscript of the Sultans of Mandu: The

Sultan's Book of Delights, translated by Norah M. Titley.

RoutledgeCurzon, 2005.


So while neither is purely Persian, "Medieval Arab Cookery" shows the

confluence of Arab and Persian, and the Ni'matnama shows the

confluence of Persian and Indian.


I have heard of surviving Persian cookbooks, but to the best of my

understanding one or two exist, but have never been translated into



Was coconut milk used? By whom? Obviously it was used in the tropical

regions where the coconut palm grows... but i don't recall any

European recipes using it, nor any Arab recipes. It does show up in

the Perso-Indian cookbook...


Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)

the persona formerly known as Anahita



Date: Thu, 16 Jun 2005 17:25:32 -0400

From: Elaine Koogler <ekoogler1 at comcast.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Question & Artemisian Iron Chef

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


Jeanne P / Casamira <jeannecas at gmail.com>

> I need some good period sources for Chinese / Persian cooking that

> show which ingredients were used in period.

> Was Coconut milk ever used?  Can it be documented?

> I know it's not part of Mediterianian, French or English medieval  

> fare.


You might also look at "A Soup for the Khan", which is mostly Mongol

recipes, but some have Persian influences.  It's frightfully expensive,

but you may be able to find it in a larger library...or get it on

inter-Library loan.





Date: Thu, 16 Jun 2005 16:47:00 -0600

From: "caointiarn" <caointiarn1 at juno.com>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Persian cooking texts

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

        <jeannecas at gmail.com>


Baroness Casamira asked:

>I need some good period sources for Chinese / Persian cooking that show

which ingredients were used in period.<


   My first guess would be to check with Jaelle's bibliography (it's  

in the Flori-thingy)  for texts.


  I found a couple with Devra (?)  -- and one I bought is  _The Legendary

Cuisine of Persia_ by Margaret Shaida.   I haven't had a chance to read it

yet, as it was intended for a gift.





Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2006 13:22:47 -0700

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Moghul Food

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


G. Tacitus Adamantius wrote:

> I was recently told about some controversy in my Kingdom in which a

> Laurel recognized for her work in Persian studies announced in

> connection with some local cook's modern Middle Eastern cooking that

> modern ME cooking is fine for SCA use since Persian cooking has not

> changed materially for 1000 years, and her correspondents in modern

> Iran confirm this.


Aargh! Aargh! Aargh! (sound of hair being torn out).


I'm on quite a few Near and Middle Eastern oriented SCA e-lists. This

was the sort of thing i heard about garb back in the dark ages when i

joined up (7 years ago :-) People complained that it was too

difficult and too expensive to make period Near/Middle Eastern garb.

And besides, things hadn't changed (insert Carl Sagan voice) in

*thousands* of years (end Carl Sagan voice).


(and i found his intonation especially annoying when i was in labor

in the maternity ward and he was on TV. I switched to the World

Series. Much better)


> The guy who told me about all this is another Laurel who has

> extensively studied the Persian culture in our period, but hasn't

> done much of a study on food, and merely suspected that this claim

> was utter sheepdip, without any hard evidence of same.


Wow! Someone else who says "sheepdip" instead of a shorter word!


Well, this guy is absolutely correct. Yeah, yeah, i don't know of an

SCA period Persian cookbook, but looking through "period" Andalusi,

Egyptian, 'Abbasid, and Ottoman cookbooks and comparing the cuisine

to modern recipes, it's easy to see that are significant differences.

How'd this female get a Laurel?!? (don't answer. I know, i'm not

displaying "peer like qualities")


> I got out a modern Persian cookbook and showed him an approximate

> percentage of dishes prominently featuring ingredients the Persians

> almost certainly could not have had access to 1000 years ago. I

> pointed out that I couldn't be sure of the extent to which cooking

> methods and styles had changed, but that the likelihood was that some

> ancient, traditional methods had survived, and some had probably

> changed per the same cultural and social forces that caused available

> foodstuffs to change. Looking at Kitab al-Tabikh, which may not be

> completely identifiable with the Persian cookery of its time, but

> which appears to be Persian-influenced, at least, we find some pretty

> significant differences in techniques and styles.


Oh, yeah. So many of the dishes have Persian derived names and are

supposedly based on Persian recipes. This is also true of that

handful of 15th C. Ottoman recipes recently published - lots of

Persian influence.


Related, but tangential... when Ibn Battuta visited with Turkic

people in the 14th century, they eschewed sweet dishes. By the 16th

century, with the rise to power of the Ottomans, the Turks in

Istanbul had developed an enormous sweet tooth. And that's in less

than 200 years!


According to Yerasimos who translated those 15th c. Ottoman recipes,

the Ottomans didn't adopt tomatoes and bell peppers until the 18th

century, and yet they are such an integral part of modern Turkish



So how could Persian cuisine stay the same until the 21st century,

especially when there were in the midst of so many trade routes and

and so many wars?


Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)

the persona formerly known as Anahita



Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2006 09:17:02 -0700

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

Subject: [Sca-cooks] SCA-period Persian Cookbooks

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


I've been corresponding with Charles Perry, translator of the 13th C.

Andalusian Cookbook and the NEW translation of the 13th C. Kitab

al-Tabikh by al-Baghdadi (which arrived yesterday, whoo-hoo!). He has

been very open and helpful.


Among other things, i asked him about Persian cookbooks, because i

keep reading about one or two, but the authors never mention names,

locations, or any details.


He sent me the following:

> There are two manuscripts from the Safaid period

> "Karnameh dar Bab-e Tebakhi ve-Son'at-e An"

> and

> "Maddetol-Hayat -- Resale dar 'Elm-e Tebakhi."

> They were edited and published together by Iraj Afshar in AH 1360  

> (1941)


Afshar was a well regarded scholar of Persian history.


Perry also suggested that there was a later edition, but i don't know  



I'm going to try to track this down. Ooo, ooo, another project. I'm

hoping that my friend 'A'isha, who has studied a bit of Persian, will

help. But there's no reason that someone else shouldn't also.


My understanding it that the books are rather different. The earlier

one is recipes with weights and measures. The later one is a bid more

florid, but gives good info, if less specific and concise.


If anyone finds them before i do, please let me know.


Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)

the persona formerly known as Anahita



Date: Mon, 17 May 2010 10:47:10 -0700 (PDT)

From: emilio szabo <emilio_szabo at yahoo.it>

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org

Subject: [Sca-cooks] recipes from Iran around 1600


There is an article about 'research on culinary culture of Iran', published in German:

Bert G. Fragner: "Zur Erforschung der kulinarischen  Kultur Irans", in: Die Welt des Islams 23-24 (1984), pp. 320-360.


The authors mention two old cookery books, one of Ba'urci Bagdadi (1521), the other one from one Master Nurollah. The latter was written down between 1594 and 1618, as far as I can see from page 326.


The author publishes 18 pages of recipes on different rice dishes from Nurollah's book in German translation. These also include a few of Nurollah's notes on food preferences, e.g. of Schah Esma'il (1576-78).


On page 326 in footnote 18, the author mentions the edition he based his translation on.


The article is available in the jstor database.





Date: Sun, 1 Aug 2010 10:41:59 -0700

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] cuskynoles


Katherine wrote:

<<< How interesting that the way to cut out the dough was as small circles.  I

think she is telling us parenthetically that the word 'nan' implies a

circular shape.  Modernly does nan/naan mean this?  Or could it be also

translated as loaf? >>>


Then and now "nan" is Persian for "bread" - the word is used in

cognate languages, and was borrowed by other unrelated South and

Central Asian languages. In Persian it is written with an alif, which

is a strong "a", so is pronounced almost like "non". Nan bread does

not come in loaves. It comes in breads: one nan, two nan (whatever

the plural is, nan-i (?)), three nan, etc.


Nan can be cooked slapped onto the sides of a tannur (the original

Arabic word; So. Asian word "tandoor" comes from "tundur", the Turkic

pronunciation of tannur), on the floor of a tannur on a tray of hot

pebbles, on a pan on a charcoal fire, etc.


I haven't heard of an historical humpy lumpy Persian loaf cooked in an oven.


Now, the Arabic khubz (means "bread") can be flat and cooked on the

walls of a tannur, or in a tray on the floor of a tannur, or on a

convex iron pan on a charcoal fire, or in some other type of pan on a

charcoal fire, AND it CAN be humpy lumpy and cooked in a more

European style oven, "furn", in which case it is rounded, somewhat

like a French boule, but quite unlike it in texture and flavor. This

Arabic word goes back to Medieval times in al-Andalus, borrowed from

the Spanish or Catalan for oven.


Historically nan and most forms of khubz are flatbreads and I just

don't think of flatbreads like ruqaq (which is like lavash) or nan

(some of which are can be 3 feet long but about 3/4 inch high) as



BTW, in kushknanaj/kushkananaj, the stress is on the syllable "-nan".


Urtatim [that's err-tah-TEEM]

the persona formerly known as Anahita



Date: Wed, 11 May 2011 19:14:58 -0700

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org

Subject: [Sca-cooks] 16th c. Persian Safavid cookbooks


Today while searching for a completely trivial cosmetic product, i

turned up my photocopy of the book published in Tehran in the late

20th c. containing transcriptions of the two 16th c. Safavid

cookbooks. Huzzah! As i do not read Persian (although i have a hefty

modern Persian dictionary to play with), i cannot tell if they are in

16th c. Persian, modern Persian, or both.


Thanks to the 1984 scholarly article by Bert Fragner i translated

from German, coupled with my slight knowledge of Arabic numerals from

my studies of the Arabic language, i know which pages each of the two

books is on.


More than one person on this list has offered to attempt a bit of

translation - at the very least through co-workers Iranian in origin.

Thank you for your past offers of help! If those people would contact

me off list, i will see about scanning some test pages and sending

them to you.


And here's looking forward to some recipes beyond the 66 mostly meaty

rice polaw recipes i translated from German into English, as tasty as

the ones i have cooked have been. I want some vegetables, dammit!  :-)


Urtatim [that's err-tah-TEEM]

the persona formerly known as Anahita



Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2012 16:02:02 -0800 (GMT-08:00)

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

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

Subject: [Sca-cooks] 16th c. Persian Lime Quince Polaw Preview


I'm still working over the web page, and it is subject to some changes, but here is the recipe for Beh Limu Polaw (Lime and Quince Polaw) i and my intrepid students cooked at the West Coast Culinary Symposium, in the San Francisco Bay Area, on 11 February 2012.



This makes a massive amount - i was asked to cook two steam table tray's worth, and that's about what this makes - it is, after all, a main course main dish. However, there was so much delicious food cooked in other classes and shared at dinner that there was enough polaw for two more meals.


I will try to figure out a smaller amount for more ordinary home cooking.


Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)

the persona formerly known as Anahita



Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2012 15:12:59 -0600

From: Ursula Whitcher <ursula at tutelaries.net>

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] rice cooked in yogurt?


<<< I will begin by pointing out that I know very little about Middle Eastern

cuisine modern or otherwise, so forgive me if this is way off the mark. I

have a recipe floating around somewhere for a supposedly Persian dish of

rice and lentils (it's in a modern cookbook with no pretensions to being an

ancient recipe, just 'traditional'). The rice and lentils are partially

cooked, then some of the rice is removed and mixed with yoghurt and placed

in the bottom of the saucepan. The rest then goes on top and the whole lot

is steamed (the instructions say to wrap the lid in a wet teatowel before

replacing it firmly on the saucepan) for another thirty minutes, with the

idea that the rice and yoghurt form a crunchy crust on the bottom. This

crust is supposedly called a 'tahdeeg'. Perhaps this kind of thing is

intended by this recipe?


I did try making this once, and it was nice, but the end result was not

exactly crunchy (I expect there's a bit of a knack to it). >>>


Yes, this is a classic Persian technique, and the crust is very good.

One way to get a crunchy tah dig is to heat the oil quite hot and

leave the heat up as you pile the rice & yoghurt and then the rest of

the parboiled rice on top.  Only then do you turn the heat down and

steam.  (My sister's ex is Persian, and the whole family learned some

of the recipes.)


But I don't know of any evidence that tah dig is a medieval feature of

Persian cooking.


Ursula Georges.



Date: Mon, 9 Jun 2014 12:58:59 -0400 (EDT)

From: JIMCHEVAL at aol.com

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org

Subject: [Sca-cooks] New blog on Persian food history


Can't speak to its quality.


A history of Persian Food through the ages aashpaz.com, a site  dedicated to Persian food, its history and influence on the cuisine of the  surrounding regions



Jim  Chevallier



From: <lilinah at earthlink.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Persian

Date: May 2, 2014 3:27:57 PM CDT

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


Gwen Cat wrote:

<<< looking for resources for Period Persian. Most specifically, I have been told there are standard(ish) spice blends... like the  Persian versions of poudre douce and poudre forte; one primarily for sweet, one for savory. >>>


I am always looking for SCA-period food references, so i'm wondering where this information came from?


There are references to food in SCA-period Persian literature of various sorts over many centuries, such as the Shah-nameh, numerous poems, the 14th c. "Gorby and the Rats" which is political satire, and the 15th c. works of Bushaq - but he's a satirist, so i wonder if some of the foods he mentions might not be parodic.


There are only two cookbooks known from SCA-period, both from 16th c. Safavid, one dated 1521 for a Persian prince, the other from 1594 for Shah 'Abbas I. Neither has been fully translated into any other language. Austrian scholar Bert Fragner translated parts of the later one into German, for rice polavs: 37 simple, 17 sour, and 10 sweet (some of which contain meat). I translated them into English and i have cooked several of these recipes in classes i have taught at Pennsic and at several of the West Coast Culinary Symposia, where they were served at dinner. There are no such spice blends mentioned among those recipes. The earlier cookbook is twice as large as the later one and according to Fragner gives more detailed recipes, so maybe they are mentioned there.


I have a photocopy of the transcription of the two Persian cookbooks by Iraj Afshar in 1941, and reprinted in  Iran in the early 1980s. Once i get done with my translation of Shirvani's Ottoman recipes from the 2nd quarter of the 15th c., i plan to work on translating the Persian. I showed them to an Iranian of my acquaintance and she said she could read most of it, although some words were archaic, so i have my hopes up that it's doable.


There are modern somewhat standardized spice blends. Perhaps someone assumed that Persian cuisine hasn't changed much in 500 years, a topic Fragner addresses in several of his essays on Iranian food - in which he points out important and wide-ranging changes.





Date: Mon, 9 Jun 2014 12:58:59 -0400 (EDT)

From: JIMCHEVAL at aol.com

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org

Subject: [Sca-cooks] New blog on Persian food history


Can't speak to its quality.


A history of Persian Food through the ages

aashpaz.com, a site  dedicated to Persian food, its history and influence on the cuisine of the  surrounding regions



Jim Chevallier



<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