Fried fish-shaped gourd

A 13th-century vegetarian dish which is made by cutting gourd into the shape of a fish before frying it in a batter made of eggs and flour seasoned with cinnamon and coriander. It is served sprinkled with vinegar, murri (a fermented barley condiment which can be replaced with soya sauce) and coriander juice. Vegetarian dishes were commonly made to look like meat or fish dishes in order to entice diners. Indeed, the author introduces the recipe by stating that the dish is able to “mislead sick people who crave fish and the like.” [Andalusian, fol. 54r.]

Garlic chicken (ثُومِيَّة, thumiyya)

This delicate stew from the 13th century was apparently a favourite of the governor of Marrakech, and derives its name from its principal ingredient, garlic (Arabic thūm), of which 150 grams are used. The recipe also includes spices like pepper, cinnamon, spikenard, ginger, cloves, and saffron, as well as almonds. [Andalusian, fols. 9v.-10r.]

Breath sweeteners

Fragrant chickpea-sized pills made with rosewater, ambergris, sugar, musk, cloves and agarwood. Though primarily intended to sweeten the breath, the lozenges were also used as a digestive, or even to perfume dishes. They should be taken twice a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. [Kanz al-fawā’id, 1993, p. 288, No. 76 (Appendix)]

Layered date galettes

This 13th-century recipe was a speciality of the region around Constantine (Algeria), and was associated with the Kutamiyya Berber tribe. It is known in Arabic as al-murakkaba (المُرَكَّبة, ‘the compound one’) because it involves layers of flat loaves (or galettes) made with semolina dough and eggs, alternating with layers of date paste. After completing the stack with however much dough you have made, pour over honey and clarified butter (ghee). Dust with cinnamon before serving. [Andalusian, fol. 65.r.]    

Candied citron

The recipe for this delightful sweet can be found in 13th- and 15th-century cookery books. Citron is fried in sesame oil and then smothered in honey and rosewater syrup before adding aromatics like saffron, agarwood, and musk. It is served sprinkled with sugar. [Ibn Mubārak Shāh, fol. 22v.]

Fried rabbit in a garlic and walnut sauce

There are very few rabbit dishes in mediaeval Arab cuisine. This particular recipe is entitled qanūra qunayna fī miqlā ‘ajība (‘wonderful rabbit en sauce in a frying pan’), qunayna being the Andalusian Arabic word for rabbit, while the qanūra method referred to frying with a sauce. It is included in a 13th-century treatise from Muslim Spain and is extremely flavoursome, as well as very simple to prepare. It goes well with rice, crusty bread or, why not, mashed potatoes! [Andalusian, fol. 16r.]

Lemon chicken wrap (بَزْماوَرْد بِحُماض, bazmaward bi-hummad)

A tenth-century recipe, made with flatbread, chicken, walnuts, mint, basil, tarragon and citron pulp. However, you will find that using lemon makes the sandwiches taste a lot better! Roll up the bread around the stuffing like a pancake or Swiss roll, and cut into slices of your choosing. If you want to gussy up the presentation, decorate with lemon slices, and include some olives on the side! [al-Warrāq, 1987, p. 57]