Aromatic spice mix: atraf al-tib (أَطْراف الطِّيب)

A highly fragrant blend of key spices, which was also known as afwah al-tib (أفواه الطيب) and already appears in the earliest Arabic recipe collection. It continued to be in use until the 15th century. Fortunately, the author of a 13th-century Levantine cookery book provides a list of the ingredients: spikenard, betel leaf, bay leaf, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, cloves, rosebuds, ash tree fruit, long pepper, ginger, and black pepper. The mixture was used most often alongside mint, rue, or saffron. In about one-third of the recipes where it is called for, there is also pepper, olive oil, sesame oil or wine vinegar present. It is not used very often in meat or fish dishes; instead, it is found in beverages, sweets, pickles, perfumes, and even the ancestor to the modern hummus. In this recreation, betel leaf and ash tree fruit were omitted. [Wuṣla, 2017, p. 41, No. 4.4]

Royal preserved lemons (سَنْكَل مَنْكَل, sankal mankal)

The author of a 13th-century cook book claimed to have learned this recipe from concubines at the court of the Ayyubid sultan of Egypt, al-Malik al-‘Adil (1200-1218). It requires a rather unusual citrus fruit called kabbad. However, it works splendidly with whatever large lemons you have to hand. The peel is fried in sesame oil, while the flesh of the lemons is immersed in wine vinegar sweetened with honey or sugar. Other ingredients include (toasted and pounded) hazelnuts, the atraf al-tib spice mix, as well as mint. [Wusla, 2017, No. 8.52]

Wine-soaked ginger conserve (زَنْجَبِيل مُرَبَّى, zanjabil murabba)

This recipe from 10th-century Iraq was recommended for people with cold temperaments. It is not difficult to make and can be enjoyed by itself as a sweet. It is very unusual in that it is one of the rare mediaeval recipes requiring wine, in which to soak the ginger. Afterwards, the ginger is cooked with saffron and honey before adding various spices (e.g. saffron, spikenard, black cardamom and pepper). Although the author suggested storing it for a few months, it tastes quite nice already a few days later!