Banana judhaba (جوذابة)

This highly popular delicacy (also known as judhab), is a drip pudding; a chicken is roasted above a kind of bread pudding made by layering flatbread and, in this case, bananas (though other fruit, such as dates or apricots, was used as well). The juices of the chicken suffuse the pudding and keep it wonderfully moist. It was usually served with pieces of chicken on top of the pudding, but you can also simply have parts on the side. This particular variety is said to have been the creation of the third Abbasid caliph Ibrahim al-Mahdi (779-839), a renowned gourmet (and author of a cookery book), as well as a gifted poet and singer. In the course of its history, the dish underwent a number of transformations (in Muslim Spain, for instance, it referred to layered waffles and nuts stuffed with chicken) before disappearing from the Arab culinary repertoire altogether.

Chicken cooking in the oven over the bread pudding.

Stuffed mince omelette

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.]

Maqrud (مَقْرُوض)

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]

Frying the maqrud

Pasta (تُطْماج, tutmaj) with yoghurt and meat

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.]

Vinegar stew (سِكْباج, sikbaj)

This is a recreation of a recipe dating from 1226CE for a popular stew, known as the ‘king of dishes’. While it has not survived in contemporary Middle Eastern cuisine, a descendant can be found in the Spanish escabeche, fish (or meat) marinated and cooked in vinegar. The ingredients include chicken, wine vinegar, coriander, ginger, saffron, black pepper, parsley, and rue. Sometimes, it was made with various cuts of meat and garnished with bazmāward (sliced sandwich wraps), sausages, and topped with cheese. Mustard is the condiment of choice. [al-Baghdādī, 1964, pp. 13-4]

Andalusian dripped meatloaf

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.]