The 10th Century Cookbook of Al Warraq

Al Warraq's Cookbook 10thC

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Annals of the Caliphs’ Kitchens - Al Warraq

A 10th Century Cookbook - Carrots

Written nearly a thousand years ago, Ibn Sayyār al-Warrāq's cookbook is the most comprehensive work of its kind. This traditional cookbook with more than 600 recipes using medieval ingredients and dishes from the luxurious cuisine of medieval Islam is also a rare guide to the contemporary culinary culture. Its numerous anecdotes and poems unfold the role of food in the politics of Islam’s golden era. It gives a fascinating insight into the mood of the period and its food culture.

Bunches of multi coloured carrots

“The Book of Cookery preparing Salubrious Foods and Delectable Dishes extracted from Medical Books and told by Proficient Cooks and the Wise.” contains recipes which go back all the way to the 10th century, when Baghdad was the seat of the Islamic Caliphate, in the Golden Age of Islam in the East.Annals of the caliphs' kitchens.

Ibn died in about 961 and it is thought, by the translator of his work, that this book was probably written in around 950. Al-Warrāq was commissioned to write a cookbook on the dishes of Caliphs, Lords and dignitaries. We know nothing of the commissioner only to say he had gastronomic aspirations to emulate the ways and means of high cuisine that such high status people enjoyed, and his curiosity of how they wined and dined and the dishes and drinks prepared for them.

Nothing is known of him apart from the book. His nickname "Al-Warrāq" suggest he was in the book business, involving copying manuscripts, compiling volumes, perhaps authoring some and trading in them. He had access to historical sources such as cookbooks and manuals from earlier writers and no doubt incorporated much material from them.

Here is the reference to types of carrots used in recipes, together with the properties of the vegetable.

Jazar - carrots. Of the cultivated varieties

1. Red-orange (jazar ahmar) carrot literally 'red', described as juicy, tender, and delicious. Poets compare it to carnelian, rubies, flames of fire, and coral reeds.

2. Yellow Carrot (jazar asfar), thicker and denser in texture than the red.

3. White Carrot (jazar abyad) similar to parsnips, aromatic, and deliciously sharp in taste. It is also described as having a pleasant crunch.

Carrot is bloating and slow to digest. However, it is extremely effective in stimulate coitus, especially when eaten pickled in vinegar. Prepared like this, it can warm up the stomach, stimulate the appetite, and help dispel gases.

From properties of vegetables - Carrot is hot and bloating and not easy to digest. It is aphrodisiac and diuretic.

Included in list of vegetables usually serves as boiled - carrot (jazar)

Here are the uses of carrot and its seeds. (Note the measurements have converted into modern equivalents.)

Title not given - Khabis al-jazar (Carrots): (A carrot pudding)

Choose fresh tender and sweet carrots. Peel them and thinly slice them crosswise. For each pound of honey use 3 pounds of these carrots. Boil the honey and remove its froth. Pound the carrot in a stone mortar.  Set a clean copper cauldron with a rounded bottom on a trivet on the fire, and put in it the skimmed honey and carrots. Cook the mixture on medium fire until the carrots fall apart.

Add walnut oil to the pot. For each pound of homey used add 2/3 cup of oil. Pistachio oil will be the best for it, but you can also use fresh oil of almond or sesame. Add the oil before the honey starts to thicken. However you do not need to stir the pot. You only scrape the bottom gently when mixture starts to thicken to prevent it from sticking to it. To check for doneness, use a stick or a spoon to see whether the pudding is thick enough or not yet.

When pudding becomes thick, put the pot down, and spread the dessert on a copper platter. Set it aside to cool down before serving. It will be firm and delicious.

Recipe for juwarishun ratb (moist electuary) which invigorates coitus. Not to be given to women:

(An electuary is a medicinal paste composed of powders, or other medical ingredients, incorporated with sweeteners to hide the taste, like syrup, honey, jam).

Take sweet Ceylon cinnamon, spikehard, cloves, sea costus, and ginger, 15 grams each. Take as well 3 ounces of each of the following: long pepper, sea-musk, seeds of watercress, seeds of Persian leeks and carrot seeds (habb al-jazar).

Pound all these spices and mix them with honey to bind them into paste. Eat one lump of this paste - the size of an almond - twice a day, in the morning on an empty stomach and at bedtime, God Willing.

(Spikehard is also know as nard, nardin,and muskroot, its oil is used as a perfume, an incense, a sedative, and an herbal medicine said to fight insomnia, birth difficulties, and other minor ailments.)

Carrot Drink to warm up the kidneys and invigorate coitus:

Slice the carrots like coins, put them in a pot, and pour on them an equal amount of water. Let them cook until done then strain the liquid and discard the dregs.  In an clean pot, combine two parts of the strained carrot juice and one part honey. Boil he mixture until one third of it evaporates. Add a small amount of mace and nutmeg. Set it aside for days then use it. It is a beneficial drink, God Willing.

Recipe for Carrot Drink (sharab al-jazar):

Wash carrots, cut off their ends, crush them lightly and put them in a copper pot. For each measure of the carrot used, add seven measures of water. Let pot come to a single boil and strain the carrots.

Return carrots to the pot and add them to honey which has been boiled and skimmed of its froth. For each pound of honey used use 11 pounds of carrots. Bring the pot to a boil and let it cook until carrots are completely done.

Ad to the pot, ginger conserve and a small amount of water. Put it away from the fire and let it cool down. Then strain the mixture and put resulting syrup in a pitched jar in which wine has previously been made. ( to encourage some fermentation of the syrupy mix)

Flavour it with the spices usually used with honey wine. Throw into it a few stems of uncrushed saffron and stir in 1/4 cup of honey. God Willing.

Khabis of Carrots

Put as much as you like of milk in a soapstone pot. Do not use a "tanjir" (copper cauldron with a rounded bottom). Light low-heat fire underneath it and let it cook stirring constantly so that it does not scorch.  Boil carrots, and cut them into fingers. Add them to the milk with a little oil, spikehard, cloves, cassia, ginger and nutmeg, all pounded and sifted.

Stir the pot very well, let it cook until it is done them break 5 eggs on it. Do not stir the pot. Serve the pudding (when the eggs are set). If you like it sweet, add honey as much as you like when you put the spices in the pot, God Willing.

(Spikehard is also know as nard, nardin,and muskroot, its oil is used as a perfume, an incense, a sedative, and an herbal medicine said to fight insomnia, birth difficulties, and other minor ailments.)

Source: Annals of the Caliphs’ Kitchens English translation of Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq’s tenth-century Baghdadi Cookbook (Brill, 2007). ISBN: 978-90-04-15867-2

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