Cucumber Fresh Pickle
Modern version by Anahita bint 'abd al-Karim al-Fassi
10 lb. medium cucumbers
1 very large bunch fresh mint
- Wash and peel cucumbers.
- Cut cucumbers in half and scoop out the seeds.
- Cut cucumber halves into 1/4" thick "moons".
- Put cucumbers in a food safe container.
- Sprinkle cucumbers with salt and toss.
- Tear up mint leaves.
- Add mint leaves to cucumbers and stir.
- Cover cucumbers with equal parts of water and vinegar, enough to cover cucumbers, and stir well.
- Let stand at least several hours.
- Once pickled, must be kept in refrigerator. Will only keep a couple days.
NOTE: I didn't have enough of any one kind of vinegar, so I mixed equal parts sherry vinegar, blood orange vinegar, and champagne vinegar. In the Near East wine vinegar was common - i don't know if it was red or white.
This recipe is based on an analysis of recipes from the 13th c. Anonymous Andalusian cookbook. Many of them just say to make meatballs "in the way that they are made". To find out what this might mean, I read five recipes and looked for common or typical ingredients.
Cooking meatballs varies as well. Some are boiled, some fried, some cooked in a sauce. Because these meatballs were served with Mustard sauce, they were cooked simply, rather than boiled in sauce.
30 lb. ground meat
[we used beef, but lamb is more likely to have been used in al-Andalus]
10 lb. onions
3 bunches fresh cilantro
3 Tb. salt
6 Tb. ground coriander seed
4 Tb. + 1-1/2 tsp ground cumin seed
3 Tb. powdered cinnamon
3 Tb. ground white pepper
To keep meatballs consistent, I suggest doing this in batches by dividing ingredients by 3 or 4.
1. Peel onions, cut off tops and tails, then quarter.
2. Puree onion in blender or food processor with cilantro, salt and spices.
3. Beat eggs.
4. Mix eggs with onion-spice puree.
5. Mix egg-onion-spice puree with ground meat. Be sure all ingredients are blended well together.
At this point, I suggest that you cook a couple small meatballs first and taste them to see how seasoning is. If it needs adjustment, write down what you add and process remaining batches with the same amount of spices. If the sample batch tastes fine, continue.
6. Form into meatballs about the size of a walnut.
7. Cook meatballs. Some recipes call for frying, others for boiling. You could also try baking. Do whatever is most comfortable or convenient for you. If you want, you could even try all methods simultaneously...
8. When meatballs are cooked, cool them until they are cool enough to handle.
9. When they are cool enough, freeze them in zip-close plastic bags.
Meatballs can be served at room temperature.
Thaw in refrigerator. Heat water and pour into a large container - immerse bags of meatballs in hot (not boiling) water until they are warm enough.
If you like, you can add any or all of the following:
Murri is a Medieval Middle Eastern liquid seasoning, originally made with fermented barley and seasonings.
A simpler, quicker recipe you can make at home can be found at:
For 30 lb. of ground meat, I suggest using 1-1/2 cups of murri. Depending on how salty the murri is, you may want to reduce the salt somewhat.
2. Crushed Garlic
For 30 lb. of ground meat, I suggest purchasing either a jar of already crushed garlic or a bag of already peeled garlic cloves and puree the necessary amount in a blender or food processor. It takes a long time to separate and peel the cloves from multiple heads of garlic. Once you have your garlic, use the equivalent of 150 cloves (that's one per diner).
Crumble and blend with the onion-and-cilantro (it needs moisture to release its color and flavor). For 30 lb. of ground meat, I suggest a minimum of 1 Tb.
4. White Wheat Flour
You can add this to extend meat and make the balls hold together, if you like.
Another recipe from the 13th c. Anonymous Andalusian cookbook
Clean good mustard and wash it with water several times, then dry it and pound it until it is as fine as kohl. Sift it with a sieve of hair, and then pound shelled almonds and put them with the mustard and stir them together. Then press out their oil and knead them with breadcrumbs little by little, not putting in the breadcrumbs all at once but only little by little. Then pour strong vinegar, white of color, over this dough for the dish, having dissolved sufficient salt in the vinegar. Then dissolve it well to the desired point, and strain it thoroughly with a clean cloth; and there are those who after it is strained add a little honey to lessen its heat. Either way it is good.
strong white (wine) vinegar
mustard powder, sifted
shelled almonds, pounded
a little honey
1. Dissolve sufficient salt in the vinegar.
2. Stir together almonds and mustard.
3. Then press out their oil.
4. Knead in breadcrumbs, little by little.
5. Then pour the vinegar over this dough and dissolve it well to the desired point.
6. Strain it thoroughly with a clean cloth.
7. There are those who after it is strained add a little honey to lessen its heat. Either way it is good.
Feast Mustard Sauce
2 quarts of prepared Dijon mustard
3 lb. almonds, very finely ground - about 3-1/2 cups
several slices of white bread, barely toasted and ground to make 3-1/2 cups
1-1/2 quarts honey
1. Pour mustard into a large bowl and stir in almonds.
2. Then stir in breadcrumbs, and mix well. Make sure there are no pockets of dry almonds or crumbs.
3. Then add honey and mix well.
To save time, I used purchased mustard. The Dijon was quite sharp, so I added a lot of honey, even though i don't normally care for "honey-mustard". You may prefer more or less. The diners seemed to like it quite a bit.
Tabouleh, sometimes written tabouli, is a Lebanese dish. In America, the bulgar often dominates with small amounts of greens, but a truly Lebanese tabouleh has a predominance of parsley and a goodly amount of mint. Modern tabouleh also includes tomatoes but I didn't in this version.
bulgar wheat, coarse grade
6 bunches scallions
6 bunches flat-leaf (aka Italian) parsley (if unavailable use curly leaf parsley)
two large bunches fresh mint
lemon juice from 16 lemons
1. Pour COLD water over bulgar and let stand, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, at least 1/2 hour.
While bulgar is soaking:
2. Clean scallions, cut off roots and break off any of the green that is wilted. Then slice both white and green finely.
3. Wash parsley, cut off coarse stems, then pull leaves or little bunches of leaves off the stems. This doesn't have to be perfect, fine stems are ok in the finished tabouleh. Then finely mince parsley.
4. Wash mint, cut off coarse stems, then pull leaves off the stems. Then coarsely mince mint.
5. Squeeze lemons. If they feel hard, before you cut them, roll them with some pressure on a firm surface. Then juice them well - as much juice as you can.
Stir the bulgar from time to time to make sure all of it soaks up water. With large quantities, you may need to let it stand longer.
When it is done, it should be tender but not mushy, and the grains should be distinct. If necessary, drain off excess water.
Then add prepared ingredients. Mix well, so that ingredients are evenly distributed.