Note: See also the files: me-feasts-msg, olives-msg, chicken-msg, dates-msg, fd-Mid-East-msg, fd-Turkey-msg, finger-foods-msg, 14c-fingerfds-art, Islamic-Feast-art, e-arab-recip-art

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ME-revel-fds-art - 10/22/04
A collection of medieval Middle Eastern foods suitable for a revel or buffet by Anahita.
NOTE: See also the files: ME-feasts-msg, olives-msg, chicken-msg, dates-msg, fd-Mid-East-msg, fd-Turkey-msg, finger-foods-msg, 14C-Fingerfds-art, Islamic-Feast-art, E-Arab-recip-art.

This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at:
I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.
The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.
Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).
Thank you,

Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous

Stefan at


Date: Thu, 7 Oct 2004 11:59:33 -0700

From: lilinah at

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] looking for middle eastern

To: sca-cooks at

Lady Sionnan wrote:

> Hi there. I am looking to plan an event for this year in which it will have

> a definite middle eastern theme (thousand and one arabian nights,

> Concordia's crystal snowflake ball). I am looking to instead of a feast

> provide what amounts to a never ending buffet through out the day and was

> wondering what suggestions people might have as to where to look for

> recipes, recipes or dishes.
I've sent out recipes to several Laurel Vigils for Near or Middle

Eastern personae. Since a Laurel Vigil is often something of a never

ending buffet, i think they would be suitable.
Here's a recent collection of recipes i sent to someone in Canada

(i'm in The West). There are a couple non-period items which are

marked as such.
I'm send it in three parts as it is rather long
----- MENU -----

I suggest using Lavosh and any other Middle Eastern flat breads you

can find. I get Persian and Afghani breads where i live. But Pita

will do - pita as we know it is not like period breads - i can find

no suggestion that they ate such a tough bread with a pocket.

You can also use Ak-mak crackers (in health food stores and Middle

Eastern markets in the US) - although from what i can gather, folks

would have dampened the crackers to soften them.


Sals Abyad = White Sauce - Spiced Walnut-Sesame Butter

Badhinjan Buran = Princess Buran's Eggplant - pureed with yogurt and


Isfanakh Mutajjan - Stir-fried Spinach

Zaitun Mubakhkhar - Smoked and Spiced Olives

Jazr - Carrots with spiced oil and vinegar dressing

Minted Cucumber Fresh Pickle

Moroccan Carrot, Orange & Radish Salad - MODERN

Andalusian "deviled" eggs

Thumiyya - Chicken with garlic, lavender, and spices

Barida - chicken cucumber salad

merguez - lamb sausages with spices and lavender flowers

Andalusian Spiced Meatballs - while recipe calls for lamb these can

be beef, turkey, whatever

Sinab - Mustard-almond-honey sauce for meatballs


Rutab Mu'assal - Honeyed Dates - stuffed with almonds, scented with


Sliced Oranges with Rosewater and Cinnamon

Lauzinaj - Phyllo-wrapped rose-scented marzipan

carrot paste


bowls of dried fruit - especially apricots

and nuts (no pecans or peanuts or cashews)

but walnuts, almond, filberts/hazelnuts, and pine nuts are good


beverage syrups:



Coffee - is period only for the very late 15th and the 16th centuries

even in the Near East. But what the heck, i drink it at events and my

persona is from the first half of the 10th century. I use my version

of Paula Wolfert's Ras al-hanout for Coffee. I drink my coffee and

tea unsweetened, but coffee with this ras al-hanout is definitely

better slightly sweetened - the sugar seems to bring out the flavors

of the spices, gums, and flowers in the blend.
Masala Chai - As far as i can tell it isn't period, but it's tasty

and warming. Hearing it called "chai tea" drives me nuts, and i was

already close enough to walk. "Chai" means "tea", so that's like

saying "tea tea". Well, enough ranting. Masala chai is tasty and

warming, as i said, and i like it myself with milk and no sweetener.
----- RECIPES PART ONE -----

Serves 100 - 150

NOTE: If you make this ahead of time, keep in the refrigerator. It

won't need to be kept refrigerated while travelling. Add water and

more lemon juice on-site before serving.
The name of this dish is from some European word for sauce. The

recipe is purely Near Eastern, however. Mustard was used to spike up

some dishes. In Southwest Asia cooks used powdered mustard seed,

while in al-Andalus and al-Maghrib they used prepared mustard.

Original Recipe:

Walnuts, garlic, pepper, Chinese cinnamon, white mustard, tahineh and

lemon juice.

The Book of the Description of Familiar Foods = al-Kitab Wasf

al-At'ima al-Mu'tada, 1373[complete text translated and introduced by

Charles Perry, Medieval Arab Cookery], p. 389

My Recipe:
4 pounds walnuts

4 quarts sesame tahini

several ounces prepared garlic paste with NO additives or preservatives

2 Tablespoons pepper

1/4 cup powdered cinnamon

2 ounces yellow mustard powder

juice from 10 lemons
1. Grind walnuts finely in blender or food processor.

2. In large bowl, stir together ground walnuts with 2 quarts of tahini

3. Mix garlic, pepper, cinnamon and mustard into one quart of tahini

4. Mix seasoned tahini into walnut-sesame paste.

5. Let stand overnight for flavors to develop.

6. Shortly before serving stir in fresh lemon juice

7. Serve with Near Eastern flat breads - I served Lavosh and a

Persian flat bread whose name I have forgotten.

NOTE: Use a Middle Eastern brand of sesame paste/tahini (Sahadi is

one such brand). Health food brands of sesame paste doesn't work as

well - they're rather thick and they're less oily.
NOTE: I suspect this is supposed to be more liquid than the very

dense nut butter I got. When I make it again, I'll add enough water

and lemon juice to give this the consistency of modern

hummos-bi-tahihi. So shortly before serving, add water to the above

recipe. It will probably suck it up. So to make a dipping

consistancy, you'll need to add a fair bit. This will dilute the

flavors, so you'll need more lemon juice, too. RealLemon isn't very

good, but some of the brands in squeezable plastic bottles are decent.



Serves 100 to 150
This is a dish of legend. And I may have created one of my own, as

people came up to me after the feast and confessed that they hated

eggplant and had eaten three servings of it. As for the history of

the dish, Charles Perry has an entire essay devoted to it in

"Medieval Arab Cookery". I'm sure that my interpretation was also

colored by all the multitude of other Buran and Buraniyya recipes I

Original Recipe:

Take eggplant and boil lightly in water and salt, then take out and

dry for an hour. Fry this in fresh sesame oil until cooked: peel, put

into a dish or large cup, and beat well with a ladle, until it

becomes like khabis [pudding]. Add a little salt and dry coriander.

Take some Persian milk, mix in garlic, pour over the eggplant, and

mix together well. Take red meat, mince fine, make into small kabobs,

add melting fresh tail, throw the meat into it stirring until

browned. Then cover with water, and stew until the water has

evaporated and only the oils remain. Pour on top of this eggplant,

sprinkle with fine-ground cumin and cinnamon, and serve.
al-Baghdadi = al-Kitab al-Tabikh (The Book of Dishes) by Muhammad ibn

al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn Karim al-Katib al-Baghdadi, a 13th century

cookbook. On p. 59-60, Medieval Arab Cookery
My Recipe:
NOTE: This must be kept refrigerated or in a cooler until shortly

before serving. Allow to come to room temperature

12 pounds eggplant - I used the large ones because they were cheaper,

but I suspect that smaller Asian eggplants would be better

1 pint light sesame oil (or olive oil)

2 quarts whole milk yogurt with NO additives or thickeners - I used

Pavel's Russian Yogurt - there's nothing in it but milk and yogurt

culture - no gums, no gelatin, no thickeners, etc.

1/4 cup salt

1 Tablespoon pepper

2 to 3 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons ground coriander seed

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons ground cumin seed

Fresh mint

1 fresh pomegranate

1 pint whole milk yogurt

1. If using large eggplants, remove stem end and quarter. Small

eggplants, leave whole.

2. Boil briefly, until just barely tender. I did this in multiple

stages as all the eggplant wouldn't fit in one pot.

3. Put eggplant in a sieve or colander over a bowl or in a clean sink

and let drain. Again I did this in stages. I didn't drain the pieces

for a whole hour. After batches had drained for 15 minutes or so, I

removed them to a large bowl.

4. Put enough sesame oil in a large frying pan to cover the bottom,

then heat on a medium-high fire.

5. When oil is hot, add some of drained eggplants - one layer of

eggplant only. Cook until tender, then remove - I drained them in a

colander as I removed them from the pan.

6. When all have been cooked and allowed to cool, puree them. I used

a food processor but a blender would work. And a potato masher or

ricer should work too.

7. When all the eggplants were pureed and in a big container, I added

two quarts of Pavel's yogurt. I honestly believe the quality of the

yogurt affected the taste of the finished dish. But use the best

plain yogurt you can find.

8. After mixing yogurt and eggplant, add spices. Allow to sit

overnight in a cool place for flavor to develop.

9. Peel pomegranate and remove white pith. Separate seeds into a bowl.

10. Dish eggplant into serving bowls, decorate the edge with fresh

mint leaves or sprigs, place a dollop of yogurt in the center of each

dish and top with pomegranate seeds.


al-Baghdadi's Book of Dishes, p. 79, in Medieval Arab Cookery

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, coriander seed, and cinnamon: then remove.

My version:

Serves 8 as a primary vegetable side dish

When I was in Morocco in Dec 2000-Jan 2001, I was served a dish very

like this in a "palace" restaurant in Fez. It was a real surprise to

find Baghdadi's 14th c. dish in 21st c. Morocco.
2 lb spinach

1/2 c sesame oil (cold pressed, NOT the roasted Asian kind)

6 cloves garlic, smashed

1 tsp. salt

1 t cumin

1 t coriander

1/2 t cinnamon
Parboil spinach in salted water 2-4 min. (or less).

Press out excess water and chop roughly.

Stir fry as recipe directs, adding spices toward the end.
NOTE: I make this at camping events. I buy frozen organic chopped

spinach. I pour it into a large skillet and cook until thawed. Then I

pour in the sesame oil and stir. I push the spinach over to one

side, put inthe garlic, cook until soft, then add the other

ingredients, and stir well.
NOTE: It is likely that they didn't use spinach originally, but a

leafy green called orach. You can also use chard, but you'll need to

chop it first and par-boil it before putting it in the pan with the


NOTE: Cook ahead of time and keep chilled before serving. This can be

served at room temperature or warmed.

If you want to use this as a dip, you might try making it, cooling it

a little, then putting it in the blender for a smoother consistency.


Serves 100 to 150 people

NOTE: If you make these ahead of time, keep in the refrigerator until

you leave. They won't need to be kept chilled while you're

travelling, if you serve them within a day or two
This recipe was quick and easy to make. The original calls for

smoking the olives. As I don't have the necessary equipment, I added

a few drops of smoke flavor to the drained olives.
Original Recipe:

Take olives when fully ripe. If you want take them black, and if you

want take them green, except that the green are better for smoking.

Bruise them and put some salt on them, as much as needed, and turn

them over every day until the bitterness goes away. When they throw

off liquid, pour it off. When the bitterness is gone from them,

spread them out on a woven tray until quite dry.
Then pound peeled garlic and cleaned thyme, as much as necessary.

Take the quantity of a dirham of them, and a piece of walnut with its

meat in it, and a dirham of wax, and a piece of cotton immersed in

sesame oil, and a piece of date seed. Put these ingredients on a low

fire on a stove [kanun] and seal its door, and put the tray the

olives are in on top of it, and cover it with a tray so that it is

filled with the scent of this smoke, which does not escape. Then

leave it that way for a whole day.

Then you return them to a container large enough for them and mix the

pounded garlic and thyme with them, and a little crushed walnut meat,

and a handful of toasted sesame seeds. Take as much fresh sesame oil

as needed and fry it with cumin seeds, and throw them on it and mix

them with it.
Then take a greased pottery jug [barniyya] and smoke it in that

smoke. Put the olives in it and cover the top, and it is put up for

[several] days. It is not used until the sharpness of the garlic in

it is broken.

The Book of the Description of Familiar Foods = al-Kitab Wasf

al-At'ima al-Mu'tada, 1373 [complete text translated and introduced

by Charles Perry, Medieval Arab Cookery], p. 403
My Recipe:

4-1/2 pounds cracked green olives in brine, drained

I bought Greek olives in a resealable plastic barrel for

under $10 at a Near Eastern food shop

a few drops liquid smoke flavoring

1-1/2 heads garlic, peeled

a couple tablespoons dried thyme or zataar herb

1 cup shelled walnuts

1 cup white sesame seeds

1-1/2 Tablespoons light sesame oil

2 to 3 Tablespoons whole cumin seeds
1. Drain olives well.

2. Add a few drops of smoke flavoring to the drained olives. Be sure

to mix very very well.

3. Crush garlic cloves in a food processor or by hand with in a

mortar with a pestle (the latter is what I did).

4. Add thyme to garlic and crush further.

5. Add garlic and thyme to olives. Blend well.

6. Crush walnuts medium-fine in a mortar with a pestle. Add to olives

and mix well.

7. Toast sesame seeds in a frying pan with NO oil, over medium to

medium-low heat, stirring very very frequently, until toasted fairly

evenly to a rich golden color - do NOT allow to burn.

8. Add sesame seeds to to olives and mix well.

9. Put a few tablespoons of sesame oil in frying pan, add several

tablespoons of whole cumin seeds, and cook on medium to medium-low

heat until cumin darkens slightly and aroma comes out. Be careful not

to burn. Stir into olives.

10. Taste. Add more smoke if necessary - use a sparing hand, as too

much is awful.

11. Let olives season for several days well covered in a cool place,

stirring once a day to distribute flavorings. I made them Tuesday

night and served them Saturday night.

NOTE: It is difficult to find plain zataar herb. Every shop I visited

that had zataar had the kind that was a blend of zataar herb, salt,

sesame seeds, and sumak. This blend is not suitable for this recipe.
A friend of mine of Lebanese descent suggested I try the herb called

"Greek oregano". This is NOT the standard oregano sold in

supermarkets, which is "Mexican oregano" and which flavor I do not

like. I did see "Greek oregano" in some of the Near Eastern markets

and will try it when I make these olives again, which I most

definitely will, as they were delicious.

Jazr - pp. 92-93
This was printed in "In a Caliph's Kitchen" by David Waines. The book

is now out of print. I have not reproduced Waines' worked out

recipes, since they generally are very far from the originals. The

part below marked "Waines" is the modern author's comments on the

recipe. Next is the original. I've never made this one, but you can

see my comments at the bottom...

WAINES: There are a few dishes in the medieval Arabic repertoire

where a vegetable is highlighted by itself. In this case it is used

to decorate the plate on which something else is served; it is, in

fact, a perfect accompaniment with a dish of plain rice. Carrots, at

least, can be treated on their own as the carrot family of plants

(which includes caraway, cumin, coriander, and dill, all common to

medieval Arab cooking) is characterized by strongly scented essential

oils. This recipe is thirteenth century Moroccan.

[Anahita sez: hmm-mmm, this might be in the 13th C. Andalusian


ORIGINAL: Cut the carrots into pieces without peeling them. Select

the middle bits and cut each piece in half and cook in salted water.

Dry the pieces off and fry in a pan with fresh oil. Then pour over it

boiling vinegar with crushed garlic and caraway. One can then either

leave the carrot pieces without frying (or else place them after

frying) as decoration on a platter.

[My Comments: This is *VERY* like a modern Moroccan recipe - the

biggest differences are that the modern recipe uses cumin, not

caraway, generally substitutes lemon juice for the vinegar, and often

includes powdered red chili]

Recipe Breakdown (i haven't made this)
carrots, cleaned

salted water to cover

fresh oil for frying, either olive or sesame

white wine vinegar

crushed garlic

caraway seeds, crushed - or cumin seeds (my preference)

(salt to taste)
1. Cut the carrots across into pieces

2. Cut each piece in half lengthwise.

3. Cook carrots in salted water until just tender.

4. Drain and dry carrots.

5. Put vinegar, garlic, and seeds in a saucepan and simmer for 5 to 10


6. Fry carrots in a pan with fresh oil.

7. Then pour hot vinegar with crushed garlic and caraway over carrots.

MY NOTE: This would look nice with flat-leaf parsley chopped and

tossed with the carrots before serving.

Minted Cucumber Fresh Pickle


Modern version by Anahita bint 'abd al-Karim al-Fassi

Serves 50-75

5 lb. medium cucumbers



white wine vinegar

1 very large bunch fresh mint
1. Wash and peel cucumbers. (peels are usually bitter)

2. Cut cucumbers in half and scoop out the seeds.

3. Cut cucumber halves into 1/4" thick "moons".

4. Put cucumbers in a food safe container.

5. Sprinkle cucumbers with salt and toss.

6. Tear up mint leaves.

7. Add mint leaves to cucumbers and stir.

8. Cover cucumbers with equal parts of water and vinegar, enough to

cover cucumbers, and stir well.

9. Let stand at least several hours.

10. Once pickled, must be kept in refrigerator. Will only keep a couple

I think it would be good drained and tossed with shredded fresh mint

when it's time to serve.
Carrot, Orange & Radish Salad

Modern Moroccan Recipe

Serves 8
This isn't Medieval, but i'm very fond of it
NOTE: If you have the facilities, take the ingredients and tools and

prepare on site. It might travel ok if not made too far ahead of time

- say, one day - and kept chilled.
1 lb Carrots, peeled & shredded

2 large Oranges, cut into bite-sized chunks - Blood Oranges are good

2-3 bunches red Radishes, sliced

2 tablespoons Lemon Juice

2 tablespoons Orange Juice

1 tablespoon Orange Flower Water

1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon, or to taste

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

a pinch of salt

1/2 cup Cilantro, chopped

Peel and grate carrots.

Slice radishes.

Peel oranges, remove all outside membrane carefully, so as not to

break segments--if using blood oranges, remove seeds. When fruit is

free of membrane, carefully lift out and place in serving dish. As

orange juice comes out, save it in a bowl.

Combine carrots, oranges, radishes & cilantro in a salad bowl.

Mix juices with sugar, flower water, cinnamon and salt to taste.

Pour over the salad.

Cover and chill. (well, I don't bother with this at events)

Serve sprinkled with cilantro. Alternately, you could use chopped

flat leaf parsley.

Date: Thu, 7 Oct 2004 11:59:51 -0700

From: lilinah at

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] looking for middle eastern

To: sca-cooks at

Here is Part Two of Middle Eastern Buffet Recipes.

Stuffed Eggs - Andalusian "deviled" eggs

Thumiyya - Chicken with garlic, lavender, and spices

Barida - chicken cucumber salad

merguez - lamb sausages with spices and lavender flowers

Andalusian Spiced Meatballs - while recipe calls for lamb these can

be beef, turkey, whatever

Sinab - Mustard-almond-honey sauce for meatballs

The Making of Stuffed Eggs
Take as many eggs as you like, and boil them whole in hot water; put

them in cold water and split them in half with a thread. Take the

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