The following recipes are all redacted from <u>A Baghdad Cookery Book</u>, translated by Charles Perry, published by Prospect Books, Nov. 2005.
The original recipe for each of the below specifies goat, but there is a section in <u>The Baghdad Cookery Book</u> where he says that one can freely substitude chicken for goat in anything, with a few specific caveats.
I've written the recipes here the way we served them at our annual feast we threw in 2013 to pay for our hall. If it says lamb, feel free to use chicken, or vice versa.
From <u>A Baghdad Cookery Book</u>, p. 49, “On plain dishes according to their variety”
Ḥinṭiyya. The way to make it is to cut up fat meat medium, then stew it in melted tail fat according to the previous recipe. Then throw on a little salt, ground coriander and pieces of cinnamon. When it is nearly done, add water according to the amount of wheat, and a little dry dill (leaves). When it comes to a full boil, take the necessary amount of peeled wheat, bruise it a little in the mortar, wash it and throw it in the pot. Take the dill out and kindle the fire under it until it thickens smoothly. When it has grown quiet on the fire awhile, take it up and sprinkle finely pounded cumin and cinnamon on its surface. If you like, squeeze fresh lemons on it. Itis cooked on a quiet fire and the surface of the pot is not skimmed until it has cooked to rages. From the Minhaj.
This is an excellent-tasting wheat pilaf (seemingly the cookbook author’s favorite form of starch). The wheat takes a long time to cook tender - I’ve taken to soaking them overnight, and still cooking them a good 4 hours or so. This leaves the meat nice and tender too, no matter how it starts. However, one should note that the original says to bruise it first. This is somewhat unfeasible when one gets ones wheat in dry form (as we tend to these days); cracked wheat may be a better alternative that would cook faster.
Every now and then, I forget to sprinkle the lemon juice on top - it does say it’s optional of course. It’s rather shocking what a huge difference the lemon juice makes. Without it, the dish is almost bland (it is, of course, from the “plain dishes” section), yet the small amount of lemon juice magnifies the other spices enormously.
Brown the meat; adding the spices in as it’s frying. When the meat is well brown, add in the broth, and bring to a boil. Add the dill, and transfer the whole to a rice cooker. Add in the wheat, and leave it alone until it is done.
Sprinkle the lemon juice over the whole, and dust with cinnamon and cumin.
From <u>A Baghdad Cookery Book</u>, p. 45, “On Plain Dishes, According to their Variety”
Isfanakhiyya. The way to make it is take fat meat and cut it up medium. Then cut fresh tail fat into strips, melt it and set its cracklings aside. Throw the meat in that fat and stir it until is is browned. Then put on enough separately heated water to cover (the meat) and throw in a little salt. Then boil it and remove its scum, and throw a handful of soaked peeled chickpeas on it. Take fresh spinach, wash it in water and cut up with a knife (into pieces) a finger-width long, after setting aside its lower roots. Pound it in a stone mortar and throw it in the pot. When it is nearly done, throw on ground dry coriander, cumin, pepper, and mastic, slender sticks of cinnamon and a little finely pounded garlic. Then increase the water in the pot as needed, and let it (the water) be warm. When it has boiled awhile, throw the necessary amount of clean washed rice on it, and kindle the fire under it until it thickens and becomes smooth. Then leave it on a quiet fire awhile and take it up. Then you will have prepared finely pounded lean meat for it and made it into small meatballs. Throw them in the mentioned fat and spices. When you ladle the dish out, put the necessary amount of that fried meat and its fat on its surface. Also sprinkle finely pounded cinnamon on it, and use it.
This is basically a lamb saag, but a bit sweeter and less spicy than the typical Indian version.
Brown the meat. Add in everything else but the rice, and stew for half an hour or so (for Saturday, I’m going to try this in a crock-pot, so have it stewed for a bit longer). Add in the rice, stew some more until the rice is done.
Form into small meatballs, and fry to a slightly crispy brown. Serve the spinach with a dusting of cinnamon, and the meatballs strewn across the top.
From <u>A Baghdad Cookery Book</u>, p. 66, “On Plain Dishes” : Khashkhashiyya. The way to make it is to cut lean meat into small slices. Melt fresh tail fat and throw them in it to stew. Sprinkle it with half a dirham of salt and a like quantity of ground dry coriander, then cover it with warm water. When it boils, remove its scum, then put in a finely scraped stick of cinnamon and a little finely pounded ginger. Then make sauce with a pound and a half of hot water, and throw a hundred and fifty dirhams of sugar or honey on it. When the sugar has disolved, sprinkle a handful of poppy seed meal on it and stir it well until it is done and thickened. Then throw thirty dirhams of fresh poppy seeds on it, and stir it until it is mixed. Then colour it with saffron, sprinkle a little rose-water on the surface of the pot, wipe its sides with a clean cloth, leave it to grow quiet on a gentle fire awhile, and take it up.
We tend to refer to this dish as “candied lamb”. I find this dish very much akin to a set of typical chinese sweet meat dishes, like crispy orange or sesame beef. I find this recipe particularly interesting and important because it gives fairly precise measurements for most of the ingredients - nearly everything but the most important one, the meat. The first time we tried it, we made a guess at how much meat was required. The result was, we thought, a bit too heavy and sweet; working backwards from our estimates of how much sauce we thought it would require to how much meat the original recipe wanted, given the amount of sauce specified, results in an unsurprising, but useful, and somewhat important, result: I think he is assuming all the lean meat from a single kid.
Brown the meat, putting in the salt and coriander as it’s frying. Cover with water, add in the cinnamon and ginger, and simmer on low to medium until the water is gone (skimming of course, but if you browned it properly, there won’t be much to skim). Note that the timing of some of the spices is a bit optional, but the cinnamon should be added pretty late - fried cinnamon turns to glue quite readily. If using goat, I’d add a bit more water, and simmer a bit longer - the longer one simmers, the tenderer the meat will be. Meanwhile, as it’s simmering:
0.333 lb water 50 g sugar 50 g honey 20 g poppy seeds, ground as fine as possible 20 g poppy seeds, whole
Heat the water, sugar, and honey until dissolved. Add in the ground poppy seeds, mix well, add in the whole poppy seeds.
When the lamb is done - i.e., the water has all been evaporated off - add in the poppy seed sauce to the lamb, and mix until evenly coated and you are happy with the consistency.
A pilaf-like dish; the translator points out that iṭriya itself is a short noodle, clearly commercially bought, and probably much like orzo.
From <u>A Baghdad Cookery Book</u>, p. 48, “On Plain Dishes, According to their Variety” : Itriya. The way to make it is to cut up fat meat medium, melt tail fat, remove its cracklings, throw the meat in the fat and stew it in it. Then throw on a little salt and a stick of cinnamon, then throw on enough warm water to cover it. Cut up two onions and throw them (in), before throwing the water (on), with peeled chickpeas, stalks of chard and two handfuls of cleaned washed rice. Then, when the meat is done, throw in finely pounded dry coriander, pepper, and mastic. When it comes to a full boil, add a handful and a half of itriya noodles to the pot. Then, when the pot is done, sprinkle finely ground cumin and cinnamon on its surface, and wipe its sides with a clean cloth, and leave it to grow quiet on the fire, and take it up.
Brown the meat. Add the salt, cinnamon, and onion; brown the onions. Add the liquid, chickpeas, vegetables ( know he says the stalks, but I like this with the greens too, so I add them both), and rice. Bring back to a boil, and add the spices. Transfer the lot to a rice cooker. About 10 minutes before it is done, add the orzo. Dust with cumin and cinnamon before serving.
From <u>A Baghdad Cookery Book</u>, p. 59, “On Plain Dishes”
: Basaliyya. The way to make it is to cut fat meat into small thin slices. Melt fresh tail fat and throw away its cracklings, and throw the meat on the fat and stir until it browns. Put water to cover on it, along with a little salt, green coriander leaves and a stick of cinnamon, and boil it and throw its scum away. When the water decreases from it, take fresh white onions, peel them, quarter them lengthwise and throw them in the pot after washing them with water and salt. Let there be half as much onions as meat. Throw on cumin, coriander, pepper, mastic, and cinnamon, all pounded fine. Some people color it with a little saffron. If you want it made sour, throw about ten dirhams of lemon juice or vinegar (on it). Leave it to grow quiet on the fire awhile. Wipe its sides and take it up.
To make this with chicken, I’ve modified it slightly. I don’t overstew the meat - chicken is plenty tender as is, and doesn’t need it. Because I’m not stewing it for a time, I can’t add the cinnamon stick - it will still be hard, and won’t release much flavour like that. And I can’t add it ground at this point - it will turn the dish to glue as I’m frying the onions. So I leave out the first mention of cinnamon entirely. Brown the chicken; add the salt and onions, brown the onions. Add the rest of the spices, and serve, perhaps strewn with lemon juice.
I should node - I mentioned caveats with regards to substituting chicken for lamb. One of those is, “Do not leave chicken dishes without dry coriander, and let there be no onion or garlic at all.” (emphasis mine). Obviously one can't do that in “a dish of onions” - my suspicion is that the author of this cookbook would not have made this dish with chicken.
From <u>A Baghdad Cookery Book</u>, pp. 55-6, “Mentioning Fried Dishes, Dry Dishes, and their Kinds” : Safarjaliyya. The way to make it is to cut up fat meat small in thin strips. Then melt fresh tail fat, throw its cracklings away and throw the meat in it. Throw on a dirham of salt, two dirhams of finely ground dry coriander, a stick of cinnamon and a bit of mastic. Then put on water to cover, and when it is nearly done, throw in red meat pounded with the spices as meatballs. When the meat is done in boiling, take big ripe sour quinces, then peel them, remove their seeds, cut them into middle-sized pieces and throw them on the meat, to cook with it until they are done. Also take one part of those quinces, pound it and squeeze out its juice well by hand in a stone mortar. Then strain it and throw it in the pot. Sprinkle the amount of five dirhams of wine vinegar on it. Take the amount of ten dirhams of sweet almonds, which have been pounded fine and beaten to a liquid consistency with water, and add them to it. Then colour it with a little saffron, sprinkle a little rose water on the pot and wipe it sides with a clean cloth. Then leave it on a quiet fire awhile so that it grows quiet, and take it up.
The paradigm of stewing the fat meat, and making the lean into meatballs, is ubiquitous in this repertoire. At some level, it’s somewhat surprising I’ve managed to come up with a menu that only does this twice. With chicken, I’m stewing the white meat, and forming the dark into meatballs, instead of the other way around, despite dark meat being fattier - I think it goes better that way.
I am switching light and dark meat on this one.
Grind the dark meat with the coriander, cumin, and cinnamon, and form into small meatballs. Set aside. Brown the white meat chicken, and add in the salt, coriander, and cinnamon. Add water to cover, and stew until the water is nearly gone. Add the meatballs, and continue to cook until the water is gone. Add in the pears and pear juice, then the almond thickener. Serve as soon as the pears are done. I’m least happy with this dish. I tried it with quince first, and it was rather bland, though with hints of pear. So the next time, I substitude pear, hoping it would be the same, but more flavourful (and quite a bit cheaper). Sadly, it was still fairly bland. I’m trying something anew for this Saturday, trying to cook the pear a lot less - hopefully, I’ll cook out less of the flavour. I think there should be something I can do to get this to come out tasting strongly of pear, and can imagine the taste in my mind - but it’s not coming out quite right. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.
: nota bene: this seems to have worked pretty well; cooking the pears minimally retains a lot more of their flavour.
From <u>A Baghdad Cookery Book</u>, p. 87, “On Pickles, Relishes, and Condiments”
: Lift Mukhallal Muhalla. Take medium turnips and peel them, then cut them in small pieces. Then sprinkle a little salt on them, and afterward sprinkle them with some mixed spices and the herbs, and rub them well into those (turnips) with the hand. Then take the necessary amount of vinegar, and put two ounces of honey in every pound and colour it with a little saffron. Put enough vinegar and honey on the turnips to cover them. Put them in a glass jug, and stopper its top until they mature, and use them. As for (the kind) that is not sweetened, cut them up and boil them lightly in water and salt, and sprinkle a little mixed spices on them. Cover them with vinegar, and when they are mature, use them.
We made the sweet kind.
Mix the spices, and rub them into the turnip pieces. Pack the turnips tightly into a jar. Mix the vinegar, honey, and saffron, and pour it over the turnips. Let sit for 2-3 days. I may throw in a carrot or radish or two for variety and color.
I’ve tried the sour pickles too; the texture comes out very meally, and the taste is rather bland, so I saw no need to make them here.
From <u>A Baghdad Cookery Book</u>, p. 88, “On Pickles, Relishes, and Condiments”
: Qarˁ bi-Laban. Take gourds, peel them, throw away their pith and seeds and cut them small. Then boil them in water and salt until they are done. Take them out of the water and dry them. When they are dry, put them in Persian yogurt with which well-pounded garlic has been mixed. Sprinkle nigella on it, and use it.
I find this recipe rather interesting - it is essentially a tzaziki sauce, but using gourd instead of cucumber!. As in all the gourd recipes, I’m substituting squash instead of gourd, because that is what we have.
Both my gourd recipes call for it to be boiled then dehydrated, so I’ve done that en masse. In this case, just mix everything but the cumin; sprinkle the cumin on top before serving.
From <u>A Baghdad Cookery Book</u>, p. 89, “On Pickles, Relishes, and Condiments”
: “Isfanakh Mutajjan. Take spinach, cut off the bottom of its stems and wash it. Then boil it lightly in water and salt, and dry it. Then refine sesame oil, throw it (the spinach) in it (the oil), and stir it until it gives off its fragrance. Then pound a little garlic and put in it, and sprinkle cumin, dry coriander and finely pounded cinnamon on it, and take it up.”
I’m serving this as a cold relish. I made it from fresh spinach the first time - an entire large tub of spinach reduced to around 2 cups of relish, and there seemed no reason it couldn’t be made from frozen spinach, so I’m making it from frozen now.
Fry everything up together except the cinnamon, chill, and serve with a pinch of cinnamon sprinkled on top.
From A Baghdad Cookery Book, pp. 78-9, “On Mutajjana, Cold Dishes, Maqluba, Samosas and what is analogous to them” : “Sanbusaj. As for sanbusaj, it is that you take the meat described in the making of maqluba and cut up the thin bread used for that and stuff it with the mentinoed meat, after cutting it into strips. Make it triangular (i.e., fold it around the filling to make triangular samosas), then stick it together with a bit of dough and fry it in sesame oil, then take it up. As for that which is called al-mukallal (crowned, viz. glazed),it is that you stuff it with sugar and finely ground almonds kneaded with rose-water, or with halwa sabuniyya, instead of meat, and fry it in sesame oil. Some people take it out of the sesame oil (and) put it in syrup, then they take it up from it and leave it in finely pounded sugar, spiced with musk and camphor, for him who wants it.
It’s the last of these I’m trying - Sanbūsaj al-mukallal. I’ve served them twice so far, always to good reviews, so the seem like they should be popular enough.
The recipe is pretty simple - take marzipan, wrap it in samosa dough, and fry them; when done, soak them in sugar syrup, and then dust them with confectioners’ sugar (presumably so one can pick them up “neatly” - though the fact that being covered with confectioners’ sugar is the “neat” version really says something about the messy one. I have not found musk or camphor, and would use only the barest amounts of either if I did - I rather suspect they wouldn’t be much to a modern taste.
From <u>A Baghdad Cookery Book</u>, p. 96, “Judhabs, puddings, and what is analogous to them”
: Khabis al-Qarc. Peel the gourd, clean it of its seeds and boil it well. Then put it on a woven tray until it dries. Grind it in a stone mortar and squeeze it out with the hand. Then throw sesame oil in the dist and boil it, and afterwards throw flour. After that, throw the gourd with it, then moisten it with syrup until it thickens, and take it up.
Here we use up the rest of the dehydrated squash. In my first attempt, I didn’t realize that the flour and sesame oil were being used as a roue, so I used far too much. Based on how it worked, that’s clearly their role.
So taking equal, small amounts (maybe 2 tbsp each, at most) flour and oil, mix them into a roue. Add dehydrated squash, and drizzle in a light sugar syrup until you get the texture you want.