13th C. anonymous Andalusian cookbook
translated by Charles Perry
It is made from the pierced musahhada that has already been mentioned. Take peeled almonds, pound them and let them dry until they are like semolina. Add as much again of sugar, spikenard, cloves, and Chinese cinnamon. Then take a flat bread (raghif) of the aforementioned musahhada, free of burns, and sprinkle it with those almonds and ground sugar aplenty. Sprinkle it with rosewater in which some camphor is dissolved, and fold it until it is a half circle. Glue the edges with dough wetted in rosewater, and put it in a frying-pan full of fresh oil. Boil it, and then take it out immediately and remove it so it drains of the oil. Let it float in a syrup of roses or julep or skimmed honey. You might make raghifs on raghifs, filled inside, and glue the margins together, and they will turn out circles and halves.
Urtatim says: musahhada are a flat thin pastry sheet, made perhaps rather like modern Moroccan warqa.
Makes as many as wonton wrappers in your package or till you use up all the almond paste
I made about 55
1 cup almonds
1 cup sugar
1/4 to 1/3 tsp. cloves
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. rosewater
1 pkg. circular wonton wrappers
mild vegetable oil for frying
--- i used a blend of safflower and sunflower oils
1/4 c. honey
1/2 c. water
1 tsp. lemon juice
- Grind almonds with sugar in the food processor to a medium stage
- Mix in cloves, cinnamon, and rosewater by hand.
- I did not use spikenard, since people seem to find its flavor odd.
- I did not use camphor because it is a potential health hazard.
- Fill a small bowl with plain water and set it next to the work space.
- On a baking sheet with low sides, lay out several wonton wrappers.
- Put a small amount of spiced ground nuts on one half.
- With a finger dipped in the bowl of water, moisten half the edge of the wonton, then fold it over the filling forming a half-moon, pressing the edges firmly together with the soft pad of the finger tip to seal.
- Repeat until all the filling is used up or all the wontons, whichever comes first.
- Heat about 1 inch of oil in a cast iron skillet, or a bit more in wok.
- Fry as many half-moon as will comfortably fit - i did 6 to 8 at a time - until golden, transferring them to a baking sheet with low sides covered with paper towels as soon as they are done.
- Let cool.
- Put honey, water, and lemon juice in a small saucepan.
- Bring just to a boil
- Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool.
- When it is cool, put it in a container.
- Shortly before serving, pour syrup over the fried pastries.
In this instance, i fried them on Friday night and served them on Saturday afternoon, and they were nice and crispy - of course, it has been quite dry here. If you live in a humid climate, they need to be well-sealed as soon as they are fried to keep the humidity out. However, given the instructions to soak in syrup, perhaps they are not meant to be crisp.
I think these would have been quite good in a syrup of rose petal jam diluted with a little water...
Senbuse Mukallele [pronounce all the "e"s] - Crowned Triangles
late 15th C. Ottoman translation and alteration by Mehmed Shirvani of the 13th C. recipe from al-Baghdadi's Kitâb al-Tabîkh
Translated by Stephane Yersimos from Eski Osmanlici (Old Ottoman) into French.
Translated by me from French into English.
The art of preparing them is the same as that of the senbuse, with the difference that for the mukallele one brays sugar and almonds, one kneads it all with musk and rose water and one fills the dough in place of meat (one takes the dough, one works it in fine leaves, one cuts it in strips, one places the filling, and one fashions them in the form of a triangle). Next one fries them in the frying pan in sesame oil and certain people after having taken them out of the sesame oil plunge them in sugar syrup, they take the out of the syrup and they eat them. They plunge them in sugar in powder mixed with musk or camphor.
--- Shirvani's translation of al-Baghdadi, folio 69
--- pp. 124-125, À la table du Grand Turc
Makes 150 to 200 for the Fall Investiture Ottoman Feast
For Spring Investiture i made about 1/3 of this recipe
3 lb ground almonds
2 lb granulated sugar
1/2 cup rosewater
1 package phyllo
clarified melted butter or sesame oil
cold pressed sesame oil for frying
NOTE: do NOT use dark roasted sesame oil
regular sesame oil is sold in natural food stores and some gourmet markets
2 lb granulated sugar for syrup
3 cups water for syrup
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 c ground cinnamon
1 capful small bottle mint extract
- Mix almonds, sugar, and rosewater to make a paste in a food processor.
- Cover several sheet pans with baking parchment paper.
- Fold each sheet of phyllo in half, then fold it in thirds, and cut along folds to make 6 strips.
- Phyllo not in immediate use needs to be covered with paper (waxed paper or baking parchment paper), then with a water-moistened, not wet, towel.
- Brush phyllo with melted butter.
- Place a very small amount of the almond paste at the end of the strip and fold diagonally into a triangle, then continue folding - like folding the American flag before putting it away. [i can make a graphic]
- Place each pastry triangle on the parchment on the baking sheet. When a sheet is full, put it in the freezer.
- Continue to make and fold Senbuse and put in freezer. After about 1/2 hour a sheet's worth will be frozen enough to put in a double-zip freezer bag. Keep frozen.
- Put 1/4 cup of sesame oil into a large wok or other wide pan and heat until a drop of water sizzles and evaporates.
- Fry frozen pastries until golden brown. Regulate heat - oil should not burn, but pastries should brown.
- As they fry, put them on a plate covered with paper towel.
- As oil is used up add another couple tablespoons.
- Continue until all pastries are done.
- If desired, make syrup with 2 lb sugar and 3 cups water.
- Just before serving cover the fried triangles with the sugar syrup.
We did not bother to do this.
- Put about 1 cup powdered sugar in a bowl, add ground cinnamon and mix until well-blended.
- Sprinkle mint extract evenly over sugar, then mix well to distribute evenly throughout.
- Dust pastries with flavored sugar.
NOTE 1: I used this blend of cinnamon and mint to simulate camphor, which is not really safe for consumption. Camphor has a menthol-like coolness, hence the mint, and is in the same family of trees as cinnamon, hence the cinnamon. Also, Yerasimos notes that they are seasoned with cinnamon in the Nazmu't-tebayi', a work of medicine from the beginning of the 15th century.
NOTE 2: For people with dietary issues, we also made about 1 dozen of these using ground almonds and Splenda(tm), served with no sugar syrup or powdered sugar.
NOTE 3: These can be completely finished the day before serving, or fold the pastries many days ahead of time and freeze, then fry the day before serving or on site.
Briouats with nuts and sesame seeds
2 oz. almonds
2 oz. walnuts
2 oz. pistachios (shelled, undyed)
2-2/3 oz. hulled sesame seeds
3 Tb powdered sugar
1/8 tsp ground mastic
1/8 tsp. powdered cinnamon
1 Tb. orange flower water
1/2 Tb. butter, melted
1 lb. honey
8 oz. phyllo
Oil for frying
- Roast almonds in 350F oven until golden brown. Cool slightly and rub off their skins.
Roast walnuts in 350F oven until golden brown. Cool slightly and rub off their skins.
Rub skins off pistachios (may need to roast briefly to loosen skins).
- Roast sesame seeds in a dry frying pan until until you hear a few start to pop, then remove from heat.
- Grind nuts, sesame seeds, and powdered sugar until smooth.
- Add mastic, cinnamon, orange flower water, and melted butter.
- Knead well to obtain a thick dough.
- Form dough into balls the size of a cherry.
- Cut phyllo with kitchen shears into rectangles 2-3/4" by 8" (7 cm by 20 cm).
- Center a ball of nut paste at one end of phyllo rectangle, and spread just a little along short end.
- Fold in both long sides, then fold up several times to form a rectangular package.
Continue until all the filling is used up.
- Fry briouats in deep hot oil.
- As they are cooked, put them hot into the honey, then drain on wire rack over paper towels on a baking sheet.
- Serve at room temperature