Medieval Near and Middle Eastern Food

These are dishes i have cooked at camping events on a Coleman stove. And i have been learning how to cook over a wood charcoal fire in the Cooks' Camp at West/AnTir War.

For more original Medieval Near and Middle Eastern recipes, visit Duke Cariadoc's Miscellany, a selection of recipes from various Medieval sources which he and his wife have tested - you may well prefer to create your own worked-out versions (i think his are very underseasoned) - and the Manuscrito Anonimo, an anonymous Andalusian cookbook


White Tharîdah of al Rashid

Translated by Charles Perry from the 9-10th c. Islamic collection of Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq.

Take a chicken and joint it, or meat of a kid or lamb, and clean it and throw it in a pot, and throw on it soaked chickpeas, clean oil, galingale, cinnamon sticks, and a little salt. And when it boils, skim it. Take fresh milk and strain it over the pot and throw in onion slices and boiled carrots. And when it boils well, take peeled almonds and pound them fine. Break over them five eggs and mix with wine vinegar. Then throw in the pot and add coriander, a little pepper and a bit of cumin and arrange it and leave on the fire, and serve, God willing.

My Version
While the original recipe does not mention bread, tharidat were typically served over torn-up bread, so i have included torn bread in my recipe.

4 to 6 lb. chicken in pieces
2 15-oz cans chickpeas
2 Tb olive oil (a little more?)
3/4 tsp galangal
5 cinnamon sticks
water as needed
1 Tb salt (less if garbanzos are salted)
1 cup whole milk - or if you must 2 per cent milk, but anything less will severely affect the taste of the dish
1 large onion (1 1/4 lbs), sliced
9 carrots (1 1/4 lbs), cut up
1 c ground almonds
5 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 Tb vinegar, cider or wine
1 tsp coriander (greens or seed)
1-3/4 tsp pepper
1-1/4 tsp cumin
Flat Bread - i prefer Persian flatbreads, but use what you can find
  1. In a pot put chicken pieces and canned chickpeas (with liquid), olive oil, galangal, cinnamon sticks, and some salt. When it boils, skim it.
    [Note: i don't use the canned liquid. I rinse off the chickpeas and drain away the water. Then i dump the drained chick peas into the pot, and add 2 cans of water.]

  2. While the chicken and chick peas are cooking, cook carrots separately.
  3. When the carrots are done, pour some fresh milk into the chicken. Then add onion slices and cooked carrots to the chicken.
  4. Gradually bring back to a gentle boil.
  5. While the chicken is coming back to a boil, put ground almonds in a bowl. Add five beaten eggs and a little vinegar, and mix well.
  6. When the chicken has come to a very gentle boil, pour the almond-egg mixture into the pot. Add the coriander, some pepper, and a bit of cumin, and stir. Leave on the fire until eggs are set, a few minutes. It should form egg shreds a bit like Chinese egg-drop soup.
  7. Serve poured over torn up bread, topped with torn fresh coriander greens.


Isfanakh Mutajjan

al-Baghdadi p. 206/12

Take spinach, cut off the [lower] roots, and wash: then boil lightly in salt and water and dry. Heat sesame-oil, drop in the spinach, and stir until fragrant. Chop up a little garlic, and add. Sprinkle with fine-ground cumin, coriander seed, and cinnamon: then remove.

My Version

1 lb spinach [i use frozen, chopped for camping events]
1/3 c cold pressed sesame oil (NOT Asian roasted)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t coriander
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt

  1. Put oil into a heavy shallow pan on medium heat.
  2. When warm, add chopped spinach, stirring until wilted, adjusting heat as necessary.
  3. Add minced garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and salt. You may also want to add some ground pepper. Of the spices, the cumin should predominate.
  4. Cook until you can smell the spices, only briefly, and remove from heat.
  5. The consistency of the dish should be a bit unctuous, but not too oily.

It is possible that the green used was not spinach as we know it, but orach, which has somewhat heavier leaves. If you are using spinach, you don't need to boil it. Just put it in a metal colander and pour boiling water over it, letting the water run off into the sink. Then cook the spinach with the seasoning. Or don't even bother to blanch.


Recipe for a Dish of Chicken or Partridge with Quince or Apple

Manuscrito Anonimo, a 13th century Andalusian cook book
Translated by Charles Perry

Recipe for a Dish of Chicken or Partridge with Quince or Apple.
Leave overnight whichever of the two [birds] you have, its throat slit, in its feathers. Clean it and put it into a new pot and throw in two spoonfuls of rosewater and half a spoonful of good murri, two spoonfuls of oil, salt, a fennel stalk, a whole onion, and a quarter dirham of saffron, and water to cover the meat. Then take quince or apple, skin the outside and clean the inside and cut it up in appropriate-sized pieces, and throw them into the pot. Put it on a moderate fire and when it is done, take it away with a lid over it. Cover it with breadcrumbs, a little sifted flour and five eggs, after removing some of the yolks. Cook it in the pot, and when the coating has cooked, sprinkle it with rosewater and leave it until the surface is clear and stands out apart. Ladle it out, sprinkle it with fine spices and present it.

My Version

1 entire chicken, or preferred chicken pieces to the weight of one chicken
2 teaspoonfuls of rosewater
1/2 tablespoon of good murri
2 tablespoonfuls of oil
salt, as needed
1 fennel bulb, cut in crescents (just slice across, it naturally has the curves)
1 whole onion, peeled, quartered and sliced
less than 1/8 tsp saffron
water to cover
2 quinces or apple, peeled, seeded, and cut it up in appropriate-sized pieces
breadcrumbs - i pulled out half a sweet batard
5 eggs, after removing some of the yolks
a little sifted flour - 1/4 cup
1 teaspoon rosewater
fine spices - a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and pepper - to taste
  1. Clean the fowl and put it into a deep pot.
  2. Add rosewater, murri, oil, salt, fennel stalk, onion, and saffron, and water to cover the meat. Add cut-up quince or apple into the pot.
  3. Put it on a moderate fire until it is done.
  4. When the chicken is almost cooked through, mix together the bread crumbs and eggs, with just enough flour to bind it.
  5. When the chicken is done, take it off the fire. Cover it with the paste of breadcrumbs, flour and eggs. Put a lid over it (maybe here in the old days they put hot coals on the lid - i didn't)
  6. Cook it very gently covered until the coating is cooked.
  7. When the coating is set, sprinkle it with rosewater and leave it until "the surface is clear and stands out apart". To be honest, i'm not sure what this means. I left it for a few minutes. The coating had a texture and consistency rather like dumplings.
  8. The original says: Ladle it out, sprinkle it with fine spices and present it. However, as i'm often cooking for pot lucks, i sprinkle it with fine spices and let the diners ladle it out.


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