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Most importantly, marmalade and fish ... The culinary history of Middle Eastern cuisine

Most importantly, marmalade and fish … The culinary history of Middle Eastern cuisine

Would you not believe if the creamy pudding you tasted at the end of Iftar during the holy month of Ramadan was the first rice pudding made with chicken? Or many centuries ago it was the popular samosa, konafa was also a thin bread filled with lentils, whose current shredded phylo dough was soaked in syrup and covered with cheese.

It’s all about essential Middle Eastern culinary history, from The Sultan’s Feast, an English translation of Ibn Mubarak Shah’s 15th century Egyptian cookbook, which won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2021 award.

The recipes in the book mention many exotic ingredients that are rarely found today in Middle Eastern dishes such as amber, syrup, speckled, mastic and musk.

“The medieval Arabs had a sweet and sour taste – they had sour tastes with vinegar or sour grape juice and fruit and vegetable flavors made with grapes,” says the author.

For example, the oldest version of the multi-fruit chicken soup mentioned at the Sultan’s feast dates back to the thirteenth century in Syria, when the Sultan traveled to Egypt, and was made with pomegranate seeds, sugar, and crushed almonds. , Ginger, quince slices and apples.

Arab culinary traditions flourished in the mid-tenth century, when a member of the Warrak family produced the Kitab al-Tabiq (Book of Foods) with more than 600 recipes.

Over the centuries, the Arab-Islamic world has produced cookbooks and recipe books, especially from Baghdad, Aleppo, Egypt, Muslim Spain, Morocco and Tunisia, and a few rare books left, including Eid al-Sultan, which restored the flavors of Mamluk Cairo. A few decades ago it fell into the hands of the Ottomans.

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When you look in medieval cookbooks and discover the wonderful Arabian look, you will find that two excellent English dishes, marmalade and fish and chips, have a completely Arabian feel.

A similar recipe for today’s marmalade is found in 14th-century Egyptian cookbooks, and fried fish, commonly believed to have originated in the Jewish community in the United Kingdom, actually goes back to the 13th-century Andalusian cookbook. It may have traveled to the United Kingdom with Muslim Jewish immigrants from Spain.