The recipes presented here are a cultural culinary journey starting in Spain and ending in the holy land.
The Crusaders Path
Almori Chicken stuffed with fruit
1 1/2 cups chopped Pears
1 1/2 cups chopped apples
2 cups mushrooms ( optional )
2 large cloves of garlic finely minced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon fennel
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seed’s
1 teaspoon anise
Mix dry Almori with : 1 tablespoon cumin 1 teaspoon thyme 8 tablespoons of honey and 1 tablespoon water over med heat. Then set to the side to cool.
Take the chicken and remove the innards. Pull off and discard the fatty parts. Wash the chicken inside and out. And place it breast side up in a large pan for baking. Stuff the cavity with the fruit and herb mixture. With a sturdy spoon coat the chicken with the Almori mixture. Making sure to coat well the legs and wings. Cook until done. The Almori will turn a golden brown and form a crust.
Cut in the serving pieces and place them on a warm platter. Spoon the stuffing around the pieces and use the juices to drizzle over the meat.
Cold Meat with Oil
2 teaspoons fresh tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound sliced beef
Cook beef in anyway it please you. Combine tarragon salt pepper and olive oil and let marinate. Slice the beef and Lay on platters sprinkle oil and herbs over the meat and serve.
The Jews of the Iberian peninsula would cook their meals before hand in preparation for the sabbath. Meat dishes would be served cold with some kind of sauce. These kind of customs and traditions were passed down for generations but recorded in trial records of a later time. Ironically it is the testimony of the accusers in these trials that kept the history of such a culinary culture alive.
And the father of Israel set until them, if it must be so now do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry the man a present, A little balm, A little honey, spices,myrrh,nuts, and almonds…..
Arab and Phoenician traders imported goods to the holy land from an island today known as Sri Lanka. They also exported many goods along the Mediterranean. Many herbal and culinary influences can be seen in Spain from the Holy land. Since antiquity dates have been one of the principal foods of the peoples of the holy land and thus a wonderful export. The following recipe for date compote is an extraction of a larger recipe for dried fruit pastries. A harvest time favorite in ancient times. The date compote is the filling of the pastries but can stand alone.
1 Cup finely chopped dates
4 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Madeira wine
Place all ingredients in a pot over medium heat. Let cook until the honey boils and froths. Remove from heat and chill. Then serve with fruits and cheeses or breads.
Make meatballs in the size of hazelnuts from chicken breasts and baby lamb meat adding the proper spaces. Then sizzle and fry and sheep tail fat. Throw over them bees honey sugar a lot of boiled and softened pistachios saffron and lemon juice in the amount needed making enough broth. Cook and add a sprig of mint to it sprinkle rose water over them and allow to settle then serve
From the Recipes of: Ibn al-Adim, Kitab al-Wuslah ila al-Habib fi Wasf al-Tayyibat wa al-Tib
In eastern Arabic cookbooks small balls of ground or pounded meat were known as mudaqqaqah. This recipe calls for the meat to be put into the size of the hazelnut or al-bunduq. Albondigas which is Spanish for meatball is derived from the Arabic al-bunduq referring to the small size of the meatball.
1/2 pound ground chicken breast
1/2 pound ground lamb
1 1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 Cup olive oil
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sugar
1 Cup unsalted pistachios boiled for 15 minutes over medium heat and drained
Pinch of saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
10 fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon rosewater
Mix chicken lamb and spices in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Shape into hazelnut size balls and fry in oil over medium heat. Cover and cook over medium heat for 35 minutes. Simmer in honey, sugar, pistachios, saffron and lemon juice. Cover and cook an additional 20 minutes then stir in the mint and sprinkle with rosewater.
Badhinjan Mashi li-Ibn al Mahdi
Take eggplant, boil and chop into small pieces. Take walnuts pound them and put them in a vessel with the eggplant. Throw salt on them. Knead with vinegar and press into a large deep bowl. To smoke it for oil over a fire until it smokes. Pull it out from the bulls like a Patty and flip it Siri it until both sides are smoked. Add to it some vinegar and Caraway. If you would like to put onion on it then do so. Drizzle olive oil over it and presented God willing!
From the recipes of:
al-Warraq Abu Muhammad al-Muzaffar ibn Nasr ibn Sayyar Kitab
al-Tabikh wa Islah al-Ma’kulat wa Tayyibah al-At’imah
Eggplants took a drastic rise in station in the Arabic world. At one time they were considered inedible. Until the courtly class made them popular. This dish is attributed to Ibrahim , son of the caliph al-Mahdi and is thought to be the predecessor of the modern dish Baba Ghannuj.
1 large egg plant about 2 pounds peeled
2 teaspoon salt
1 cup finally ground walnuts
3 tablespoons vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
1 large onion finally chopped fried in oil ( optional)
Cook the egg plants for 10 minutes over medium heat in water. Chop into small pieces and place in strainer. Mix in walnuts remaining salt and 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium high heat until it begins to smoke. Add the egg plant wall nut mixture to the pan flattening it with a wide spatula to form a patty. Sear on both sides then remove and chop it into small pieces. Sprinkle remaining vinegar olive oil and caraway over the egg plant mixture. If desired spread onions over the dish and serve.
Lawn min al-Baysar
Pick out fava beans and wash in hot water a number of times. Then coat with oil and place in a pot coated with oil. Then throw fresh water over them to cover them, a chopped onion, a whole head of garlic, cumin, coriander and fennel. Cook over the fire and stir with a spoon until it becomes like marrow. After removing the garlic and onion from the pot and seasoning it with salt, then empty it into a dish and sprinkle cumin and oil over it. Whoever wants to eat it with small radishes and onions or with olives do so.
From the recipes of:
-al-Tujibi Fadalah al-khiwan fi Tayyibat al-Ta’am wa al-Alwan
( al-Tujibi’s cookbook has this recipe listed as a dish for fresh or dried fava beans.)
1 1/2 cup dried fava beans soaked overnight and drained
6 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground fennel seeds
1 tsp salt
Place beans in pan with oil stir till beans are coated. Tie onion and garlic in a bag and place with beans. Add water to cover beans plus 4 inches. Add all spices to water except salt. Cook for 2 hrs or until beans were soft. Remove the bag and remove pan from heat . Take beans and remaining liquid and mash. Stir in salt and serve.
* A note on presentation . Fennel seeds cooked for this long turn white and look unappealing. I would suggest either grinding them or placing them in the cheese cloth with the onion and garlic.
Zaytun Akhdar Marsus
Remove the pits. Pound for them peeled,roasted walnuts and dissolve in lemon juice. Add to it atraf al-tib, tahini, salted lemon pieces chopped small, parsley leaves stripped from their stem, mint and rue. Knead together in order that it can be removed to be put on bread. Add to it dried coriander caraway and a little pepper.
From the recipes of:
Ibn al-‘Adim , Kitab al-Wuslash ila al – Habib fi Wasf al-Tayyibat wa al-tib
1/2 pound green olives ground
4 tbsp ground walnuts
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp atraf al-tib
2 tbsp tahini dissolved in water
1/4 lemon with peel, finely chopped and sprinkled with 1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp finely chopped rue (optional )
1/4 tps ground coriander seeds
1/4 tps ground caraway seeds
1/4 tps black pepper
Thoroughly combine all the ingredients and serve.
In ancient times rue was considered a powerful healing agent for women’s problems. It is called a sad dark herb. In southern Europe it was used in many wedding traditions such as sewing it to the four corners of the newlyweds bed for luck with children.
Almond and Honey for Dates
And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries and to be cooks and to be Bakers……
Dates of been a staple in the diet of the peoples of the holy land. Ancient Hebrews ate this sweet fruit in its natural state or used it in different confections.
1/4 Cup sesame seeds toasted
1 cup whole almonds coarsely ground
1 cup honey
15 dates halved lengthwise and pitted
Cook honey until it becomes foamy. Stir and almonds and let the mixture cool. Scoop up a heaping teaspoon of the almond honey mixture. Roll it in the sesame seed’s until well coated, then gently stuff the sesame seed coated mixture into the date half.
Honey and Goat Cheese
6 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup Honey
2 tbs vinegar
Lemon Zest to taste
Mix all ingredients together and serve with sweet fruits.
* A note on presentation. Both of these recipes are meant to be stuffed inside the dates. I choose to use them both as dips for the dates.
Abigail’s Fig Cakes
Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses.
1 Samuel 25:18
20 dried figs
6 ounces walnuts or almonds lightly toasted and coarsely ground
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Soak the figs in warm water then drain and finally chop. Mix the figs with the crushed nuts and cinnamon. Shape in the heaping tablespoons. Place on greased cookie sheet. Cook until cakes become moderately dry and let cool completely before serving.
And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in the vineyard, as a lodge in the garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.
The lodge mentioned in this passage is a shelter offered to watch men whose job it was to guard the precious crop of cucumbers. This green fruit is still as widely popular in middle eastern cooking as it was in ancient times.
12 olives pitted and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Two sprigs fresh dill finally chopped
4 ounces goat cheese crumbled
Peel and seed the cucumbers then cut into cubes. Gently mix the cucumbers with olives vinegar and dill. Sprinkle with goat cheese.
A Biblical Feasts
Foods from the holy land
By Kitty Morse
A Drizzle of Honey
By David M. Gitlitz & Linda Kay Davidson
Essential Herbal Wisdom
By Nancy Arrowsmith
Leila Salloum Elias