By Nawal Nasrallah
This English translation of al-Warraqs tenth-century cookbook bargains a different glimpse into the culinary tradition of medieval Islam. enormous quantities of recipes, anecdotes, and poems, with an intensive advent, a word list, an Appendi and colour representation. Informative and wonderful to students and common readers.
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Today, however, they are more likely to be colored, thickened, and soured with tomato paste than saffron, crushed almond, and a souring agent, as was done in medieval times. Bread is as indispensable as it has always been, baked in the good old tannår and furn. Rice, on the other hand, is used more frequently now, at least in the eastern regions of the Arab world. We still make the same old sanbåsa,76 kab§b, laq§niq (sausages, b§sãirma and mumb§r), mukabbaba and maqlåba (kufta), qaliyya (fried dish), ï9arÊd (bread sopped in broth), harÊsa (wheat pudding), kiê9k, ma'Êra (stew with sour milk, labaniyya), rumm§niyya (pomegranate stew, fasanjån), ãafê9Êl (grain and pulse medley, burma), narjisiyya (egg dishes, maÕ9lama), simmered sheep heads, tripe, and trotters (p§cha), qibba (stuffed tripe, kibb§y§t), stuffed sheep roasted in the tannår (qåzÊ), varieties of Õ9abÊß and f§låù9aj (condensed puddings, Èal§wa), and Muhallabiyy§t (rice and milk puddings, maÈallabÊ).
The meat was cut into pieces, skewered, and grilled on open fire. It was sometimes pan-grilled. 115 A more ‘advanced’ grilling method was kardan§j ‘grilling on a rotating spit’ mostly used with plump chicken and pullets. A feather was used to baste the revolving chicken with oil or other ingredients such as spices and murrÊ (liquid fermented sauce, Chapter 90). It was eaten with dipping sauces ßib§ÿ9 and bread. No food symbolized the leisurely Abbasid urban cuisine more than ruq§q bread, large and paper-thin.
792), an admirable Abbasid personage, renowned for his hospitality and kindness. 4. Abå al-Muball§ al-0alaw§nÊ ( )ﺃﺑﻮ ﺍﻟﻤﻌﻠّﻰ ﺍﻟﺤﻠﻮﺍﻧﻲmight have been a well-known contemporary confectioner, judging from his nickname and recipe. 5. Bidba ( )ﺑﺪﻋﺔslave girl and excellent cook of the Abbasid prince Ibn al-MahdÊ (d. 839), known for her sikb§ja and baw§rid dishes. 6. Bår§n (( )ﺑﻮﺭﺍﻥd. 884) wife of Caliph al-Maamån, famous for her eggplant dishes. 7. Ibn al-à9iãranjÊ (ﺍﻟﺸﻄﺮﻧﺠﻲ à9iãranjÊ (d. 946).
Annals of the Caliphs' Kitchens: Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq's Tenth-century Baghdadi Cookbook by Nawal Nasrallah