This 13th-century Egyptian recipe takes a bit of time to make, but it is well worth it. The apricots are macerated in a mixture of rose water syrup, saffron and musk. Other ingredients include wine vinegar, and the atraf al-tib spice mix. The almonds are blanched and coloured with saffron before stuffing them inside the apricots.[Kanz al-fawā’id, 1993, p. 163, No. 437]
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.]
A wonderful desert from a 13th-century Egyptian cookery book. It is made with red roses, which are first boiled in water, sugar, wheat starch, rose-syrup, and sesame oil. [Kanz al-fawā’id, 1993, pp. 108-109 (No. 283)]
This is the 13th-century ancestor of a modern North African favourite, which still bears the same name, even if the result is somewhat different. These sweetmeats are made with semolina dough, stuffed with sugar and almonds, or dates, and then deep-fried in oil until golden and crispy. Sprinkle on sugar before serving. [al-Tujībī, 2012, p. 79]
This festive candy platter combines recreations of a number of 13th-century Egyptian delicacies: candy fingers, tamarind candy, almonds in honey (مَكْشُوفة, makshufa), as well as the mysterious ‘ill lady’ (sitt danif) and her pistachios in rose-water syrup and musk.
This was a very popular sweet in the Middle Ages. and is found in several of the cookery books. It is made with sesame oil, toasted flour, honey and rose water. Serve with a sprinkling of pistachios – or saffron-dyed almonds — and coarsely ground sugar. One recipe recommends additional flavouring with rose water and musk, and a dusting of poppy seeds. [Ibn Mubārak Shāh, fol. 19v.]
The mediaeval ancestor to a much-loved present-day sweet, which still bears the same name. The fritters are made by deep-frying dough in a number of different shapes, which are then drenched in honey. You can also vary the colours by adding, for instance, saffron or fennel to turn them yellow or green, respectively. Recipes for these fritters are found in a number of treatises from both the western and eastern Islamic empire, but the recreation is based on instructions from a 13th-century Andalusian one. [Andalusian, fol. 69v.]
These scrumptious biscuits are extremely easy to make. Clarified butter (ghee), almond and wheat flour, and sugar are kneaded into a dough, which is then shaped into breasts before baking. Serve with some mint tea on a lazy weekend afternoon — or any other time for that matter! [Wasf al-at’ima, Ṣināʿa 52, p. 229].