This recipe is included in the earliest Abbasid cookery book and is attributed to the ill-fated Musa al-Hadi, whose caliphate lasted only around a year (785-6) before he was succeeded by his younger brother, the great Harun al-Rashid. The dish is quite simple to make, and requires lamb’s liver, vinegar (it works well with apple cider, too!), murrī (use soya sauce as a substitute), sesame oil, coriander, cumin, caraway, and pepper. The liver is cut into narrow strips and marinated in the seasonings and spices before frying. When serving, sprinkle on some more spices. They make a wonderful liver sandwich, with sauce and trimmings of your choice.
This recipe from 10th-century Baghdad is both flavoursome and easy to make. Cut tender lamb into slices ((شَرائح, sharā’iḥ) and marinate in fresh coriander (cilantro) juice, mixed with asafoetida. Coat the kebabs with olive oil before skewering, and then cook. Serve with rice and a wonderfully delicate dip made with red wine vinegar, murrī (use soy sauce), asafoetida and caraway seeds.
The tharīd (ثَرِيد) is one of the oldest and most popular dishes in Arab cuisine and usually denotes crumbled bread in a meat or vegetable broth. Deriving its name from the verb tharada (ثَرَدَ), ‘to crumble’, the dish was apparently one of the favourite foods of the Prophet, himself, who reportedly said that “the virtue of ʿĀ’isha [his favourite wife] among women is like that of the tharīd among all food” (فضل عائشة على النساء كفضل الثريد على سائر الطعام). This 13th-century recipe is attributed to a Cordoban physician by the name of Abu ‘l-Hasan al-Bannani, who would apparently make it in spring. It is prepared with diced lamb, salt, onion juice, pepper, coriander seeds, caraway and olive oil. Once this is cooked, spinach, grated cheese and butter are added, before pouring everything onto the bread crumbs. In this recreation, the dish is served with couscous.
An Andalusian dish, consisting of aubergine stuffed with lamb mince, spices and egg-whites. It is unusual in a number of respects. Firstly, it is one of very few Jewish recipes, whereas, in terms of cooking, it is made in three separate pots, each of which containing slightly different ingredients (among them rose water, citron, mint, vinegar, thyme, rue, fennel, onion). Two of the varieties are decorated with eggs, either whole or just the yolks. (Anonymous, fol. 70v.)
A wonderful stew with prunes from 13th-century Muslim Spain. It is made with fatty lamb, salt, pepper, coriander, cumin, saffron and vinegar. Once the meat is done, the prunes are added. They should be of the small black variety, known as ‘cow’s eyes’ (ayn al-baqar), preserved in vinegar. When serving, spread everything out on a plate, and decorate with crumbled egg yolks, little meatballs and spices [Andalusian, fols. 10v.-11r.]
This is a recipe by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (1201-1274), one of the most famous scholars of the Middle Ages. He claimed the dish remedies foul temperament and strengthens sexual potency. It is made with lamb and onions, coconut oil. cardamom, cinnamon, and musk. It is recommended for lunch. [Sultan’s Sex Potions, pp. 102-3]
A layered omelette with mince meat of your choosing (but chicken works best). The meat is cooked with spices (except cumin), olive oil and rose water. The meat is then layered in between omelettes and cooked. [Andalusian, 20v.-21r.]
This tagliatelli-type pasta is referred to in several culinary treatises, and sheds some interesting light on the history of pasta. In the recipe recreated here it is part of a dish which also contains sour yoghurt, meat (you can use chicken, lamb or beef), garlic, pepper, onions, and coriander (both fresh and dried). Some of the meat is cut into slices, the rest is shaped into balls. The pasta is served on top of the yoghurt, with the meat being put on last. [Ibn Mubārak Shāh, fol. 12r.]
A 13th-century dish made with lamb or veal, salt, pepper, coriander, onions, ginger, saffron, spikenard, cinnamon, and rose-water syrup. What is unusual about this recipe is that you use a couscoussier, placing cut onions in the top (colander) pot, and the meat in the bottom one so that the onion juices drip into the meat. Afterwards, it is finished off in the oven. [Andalusian, fol. 51r.]