Caer Galen Midwinter Feast:
An Evening in Arabian Lands

December 9, 2000

Third Dish:

Zirbaya (Chicken in a Sweet Sauce)

From Cariadoc's Miscellany:

Andalusian p. A-8

    Take a young, cleaned hen and put it in a pot with a little salt, pepper, coriander, cinnamon, saffron and sufficient of vinegar and sweet oil, and when the meat is cooked, take peeled, crushed almonds and good white sugar, four ounces of each; dissolve them in rosewater, pour in the pot and let it boil; then leave it on the embers until the fat rises. It is very nutritious and good for all temperaments; this dish is made with hens or pigeons or doves, or with the meat of a young lamb.

    1 chicken, 3 lb
    1 t salt
    1/2 t pepper
    1 t coriander
    2 t cinnamon
    20 threads saffron
    2 T wine vinegar
    2 T olive oil
    4 oz = 2/3 c almonds
    1/2 c sugar
    4 T rosewater

    Put cut-up chicken, spices, vinegar, and oil into pot. Bring to boil, cook covered over moderate to low heat 40 minutes, stirring periodically to keep the chicken from sticking. Blanch and grind almonds, mix with sugar and rosewater to make a paste. Stir this in with chicken, bring back to a boil and cook about 8 minutes until sauce thickens. 

    -- From the electronic version of Cariadoc's Miscellany, available on-line at:

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Isfanakh Mutajjan 

From Cariadoc's Miscellany:

al-Baghdadi p. 206/12 

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

    1 lb spinach
    1 T sesame oil
    1 clove garlic
    1/4 t cumin
    1/8 t coriander
    1/2 t cinnamon

    Boil spinach in salted water about 2 minutes.

    -- From the electronic version of Cariadoc's Miscellany, available on-line at:

    Maredudd's notes: We used frozen spinach. Be sure that the sesame oil that you use is the Arabic variety. It's made from untoasted sesame seeds, and is nearly flavorless. It's also pretty pricey - about $12 a quart. Do not substitute Chinese sesame oil; the flavor is very different. 

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Fruited Rice

    To ten cups of steamed Rice, add about 2 cups of a mixture of sliced almonds, raisins, chopped dates, and apricots. 
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