The medieval Arab equivalent of garum, only better: murrī (مرّي)


Undoubtedly the most famous condiment of medieval Arab cuisine, the standard version usually involves forty days of fermentation of rotted barley. It has been said to taste like soya sauce, which can indeed serve as an alternative if your pantry is low on the real thing. There will be another post devoted to the various types of murrī, but for now, let me whet your appetite with this wonderful express version for a mint murrī from The Sultan’s Feast. It requires two parts of barley flour and one part of salt to make a faṭīr, an unleavened flatbread. This is left to bake in an oven overnight, but before removing the loaves they should be burnt on the outside and inside. Once they’re ready, they are broken up into pieces and soaked in water with thyme, mint, pine nuts, and citron peels and leaves. Then, everything is put back in the oven for another overnight bake. After straining, you are left with murrī, to which honey is added to break the saltiness. Store in a jar with some olive oil on top to seal. The best way to describe the result is a seasoned soya sauce –very nice and versatile. Forget about garum, it’s all about the murrī! ( #teammurri!)

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