By Nawal Nasrallah
This English translation of al-Warraqs tenth-century cookbook deals a special glimpse into the culinary tradition of medieval Islam. enormous quantities of recipes, anecdotes, and poems, with an in depth advent, a thesaurus, an Appendi and colour representation. Informative and wonderful to students and normal readers.
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Extra info for Annals of the Caliphs' Kitchens: Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq's Tenth-century Baghdadi Cookbook
Rice, on the other hand, is used more frequently now, at least in the eastern regions of the Arab world. We still make the same old sanbåsa,76 kab§b, laq§niq (sausages, b§sãirma and mumb§r), mukabbaba and maqlåba (kufta), qaliyya (fried dish), ï9arÊd (bread sopped in broth), harÊsa (wheat pudding), kiê9k, ma'Êra (stew with sour milk, labaniyya), rumm§niyya (pomegranate stew, fasanjån), ãafê9Êl (grain and pulse medley, burma), narjisiyya (egg dishes, maÕ9lama), simmered sheep heads, tripe, and trotters (p§cha), qibba (stuffed tripe, kibb§y§t), stuffed sheep roasted in the tannår (qåzÊ), varieties of Õ9abÊß and f§låù9aj (condensed puddings, Èal§wa), and Muhallabiyy§t (rice and milk puddings, maÈallabÊ).
We should also take into account the personal preferences of the writers themselves, as in the case of al-Baÿ9d§dÊ. Instances on shared dishes are ï9arÊd, sikb§ja, Ibr§hÊmiyya, rumm§niyya, Èumm§'iyya, zÊrb§j, safarjaliyya, dÊkabrÊka, summ§qiyya, miê9miê9iyya, ãab§hija, muãajjana, kiê9kiyya, Bår§niyya, aruzziyya, bujaj, muzawwar§t, kaw§miÕ9, harÊsa, jåù9§b, sanbåsaj, Õ9uê9kan§naj, Õ9abÊß, f§låù9aj, zal§biya, qaã§yif, and lawzÊnaj. The details in making such dishes may expectedly vary, but the method largely reflects a shared and a lasting cuisine that traveled westwards as far as Sicily and the Iberian Peninsula, and eastwards as far as India.
However, we can safely assume that the commoners al-b§mma did enjoy good food, in normal circumstances at least. The trendy dishes the affluent enjoyed such as the varieties of stews called sikb§j§t and zÊrb§j§t were also popular among the rest of the community. This we learn from an anecdote al-MasbådÊ tells on the Abbasid Caliph al-Mutawakkil (d. 861). He was once sitting at a place overlooking the Gulf, and happened to smell sikb§ja stew being prepared by one of the sailors on board of a ship.
Annals of the Caliphs' Kitchens: Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq's Tenth-century Baghdadi Cookbook by Nawal Nasrallah