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Archive for May, 2016

Syrian Tharid

According to “Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World by Lilia Zaouali (University of California Press, Berkeley: 2007), tharid was “a kind of national dish of the Arabs in the early years of Islam…. The prophet Muhammad declared it the best of all dishes, going so far as to compare its excellence to his favorite wife, Aisha.”. Tharid is basically a dish of crumbled bread soaked in meat broth, that is arranged in a pyramid with pieces of meat set around it.There are many variations of Tharid.

Ibn Sayyar al Warraq, who compiled the cookbook the Kitab al-tabikh in Baghdad in the second half of the 10th century, has a dozen versions of tharid, one of which includes sausages. No information is given about the sausages, but something like a lamb merguez would probably work well.

Syrian Tharid (from Zaouali): Take some mutton and poultry, such as chickens and capons or the like; you can also use mutton by itself of chicken by itself. Cut [the meats] into medium-size pieces, remove the entrails, discard the heads and necks, rinse, and arrange in a clean pot. Some water will be needed in which to soak some cleaned truffles overnight. Cover the meat with this liquid after having strained it. In the absence of truffles, use honey that has been darkened by boiling and the addition of a little kumakh. Add chickpeas and salt, then increase the fire under the pot. Prepare a fragrant bundle of fresh rue, Greek or Nabataean leeks, and fresh coriander [cilantro], and put it in the pot. Then you must add the crushed spices, coriander [seeds], cumin, caraway, and pepper, and fan the fire beneath the pot in order to cook the meat. Next, crumble the white bread and sprinkle it with enough broth for the bread to be soaked, then take the meat [and arrange it on the soaked bread] and garnish with sausages all around the dish.

“Annals of the Caliphs’ Kitchens” by Nawal Nasrallah (Brill, Leiden: 2010) is a newer complete translation of Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq.

A recipe for tharida Shamiyya (of the Levant): Take lamb and chicken. Alternatively, use young fowls or any other similar birds [instead of chicken]. You also have the option of using either lamb or poultry. Cut the meat into medium pieces and clean them. Remove [and discard] the entrails of the chicken and discard the heads and the necks.

Put the meat in a clean pot. Add the strained liquid of truffles, which have been washed and soaked in water overnight. Put enough of the liquid to cover the meat. If truffles are not available, boil some honey until it turns black then pour on it a small amount of ma kamakh (murri, liquid fermented sauce), and add it to the pot with a little chickpeas and salt. Light fire under the pot.

Tie into one bundle, fresh rue, leeks – either Rumi or Nabati* – and cilantro. Add this bouquet to the pot. Then add ground spices suchb as coriander, cumin, caraway, and black pepper. Continue cooking the pot until meat is done.

Break fine bread into pieces [in a big bowl] and add enough of the broth to submerge it. Put the meat pieces all over the bread and garnish the dish by arranging small sausages and tardin (thin meat patties) all around it.

* The first variety of leek is named after Byzantium. It is mountain leeks with delicate, long, slender, and pungent leaves. The other variety is indigenous to Iraq. It is the regular cultivated variety grown for its crisp and tender leaves.

A recipe for tardin (thin meat patties): Take lean meat and meat from the shoulders. Thoroughly pound them in a stone mortar. Chop onion and pound it with the meat. Moisten the mixture with egg whites as much as needed. Throw into the mixture, ground coriander seeds, cumin, black pepper, cassia, ginger, galangal, and aniseeds. Pour in a small amount of murri (fermented sauce) and a little olive oil.

Take the meat paste out of the mortar, and spread it on a sheet of papyrus or paper. Boil water [in a pot] and put the sheet in it until the meat is done.

Take the sheet out of the water and cut meat into triangles. Pour washed olive oil into a frying pan and fry the pieces until browned. Arrange them on a platter, put a small bowl of mustard in the middle, and serve the dish, God willing.

The small sausages for which there are recipes in this book are all called laqaniq, which sounds suspiciously like another version of loukanikos, or Lucanian sausage, even though the recipes are different.

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