During the golden age of Caliphates, merchants and traders braved the seas, and the threat of rot, to bring spices and herbs and vegetables from the East. This ethnic confluence allowed royal chefs, from mahals to alcazars, to engage in centuries-long gastronomic foreplay all in the name of a perfect feast for the kings of kings.
We may not brave these salty seas, but the busybodies at Licious’ meat shop will brave a sea of revving metal, so you can relive the banquets of old West Asia, with halal medieval experimentations, from the comfort of your home.
Cracking The Medieval Canapé
From the recipe of Caliph al-Ma’mun, this style of appetiser had long been a standard at royal feasts. Medieval recipes seldom mentioned the measurement of each ingredient or length of cooking time. It is likely they were only a reference for experienced cooks, each adding their own style and alterations as they cooked. This particular appetiser (or canapé) is similar to hors d’oeuvre of cheese and bread often served in fine dining.
The ingredients include: roasted chicken breast, de-boned and chopped; lavash, a thin flatbread that you can substitute with any other fresh variety; walnuts; peeled and chopped citron, a lemon-like aromatic fruit; finely chopped fresh tarragon, mint and basil. If you can’t find citrons at your local grocer’s, then use one or two lemons, depending on your personal preference. Go light on the herbs.
Spread the ingredients over your flatbread, and roll it into a shawarma and eat it when it is warm.
Galangal Comes to Arabia
Galangal is a Southeast Asian aromatic root that closely resembles ginger. The recipe, another medieval treat, courteously translated by historians, also uses rue. This European herb is a fragrant perennial that is extremely bitter to the taste, and, in large quantities, causes irritation similar to poison ivy. Like asafoetida, when using rue, a small pinch is more than enough to impart optimum flavour.
To prepare the dish, sauté a thinly sliced onion, two leeks, rue and fresh cilantro (coriander) in a pan. Cook 200 grams of mutton (lamb or goat), chopped or ground, into this base. Add coriander seeds, caraway, peppercorn and galangal, all ground, along with a few teaspoons of vinegar and some soya sauce. Continue cooking till the meat is done, and resist the temptation to add water. Add a tablespoon or two of honey towards the end. Garnish with coriander.
With Licious, you can confidently buy halal meat online to try out these popular medieval dishes from the Arab world, and more!