Digestive Beverages (Hadimat)

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Here is another warming drink.  This one takes time though…lots and lots of time!  This not a one hour simmer with spices and serve as the Hipocris was.  This is a brew in the warming days of spring and serve next to an autumn fire.  So we need to get some brewing started!

Honey Wine with Raisins


Take fifty pounds of raisins and thirty (pounds) of clarified bees’ honey.  Put the honey in a pot with a quantity of water equal to half the honey.  Boil the honey and water over a strong fire, and when it is cooked add the raisons with twenty pounds of water and boil again.  Strain out the grape seeds and add a weight of five dirham of saffron, five dirham of spikenard, and three dirham of mace, along with the weight of 1 daniq of musk.  Keep in bottles in the shade and use after forty days.  It is a marvel.  (Zaouali, pp. 140)


1 jar

1 package yeast

¾ C sugar

10 lbs of honey

10 lbs of water (divided in half)

3 grams each of Chinese cinnamon, nutmeg, saffron

4 lbs raisons


Redaction:  One week prior to starting, I mixed the sugar and yeast together in a jar (with about 3 C water) so that when the time came to add yeast there would be lots and lots!

Now the period method did not call for yeast.  Yeast in period was either salvaged from a previous batch of brewing or allowed to form naturally in or on any items by leaving them out a bit to gather the wild yeast.  My kitchen is geared, due to all the various cooking I do, to bread yeast.  Modern bread yeast at that.  Modern bread yeast does horrible nasty evil things to brewing.  So, to help circumvent any modern bread yeast from taking root into my mead, I make a HUGE batch of wine yeast (lost of sugar and time to get the little yeasty beasties growing) then add them to my bottle of brewing.

Roughly 5 to 7 days later I started to brew mead.

I took 10 lbs of honey and poured the liquid gold into a large pot.

Now the honey I bought was not regional to anywhere in the Middle East nor in Ansteorra.  I bought, for cost sake, Costco slut honey.  A decent clarified honey at a good price.  Regional honey is much better in my opinion but 2x the price for half the amount is not.  I chose to be cost efficient and go for decent mead instead of slightly darker sweeter mead.  If you can get regional flavored honey…do so, but don’t break the bank for brewing!

The next step was to add 5 lbs of water.  I used one of the containers of honey and refilled it up with water to equal ½ of the water needed in the first portion.

I allowed the honey and water mixture to boil just slightly.

Bubbles were just forming.  Then I added the 4 lbs of raisins.

Now the period method said 50 lbs of raisins (roughly) for the original recipe.  This recipe has been cut by half.  Raisins to be used in that quantity had to be as easy to come by as air.  Do not get me wrong the flavor is great; however I don’t think so much was or is needed.  I cute the quantity from what should be 25 lbs of raisins to 4 lbs.  My cooking pot would not have handled so much, though I wonder after reading the translation several times if the raisins were not cooked until dissolved in which case the 4 lbs of raisins I used should have been ground up then added.  But this is hindsight.   Next time I’ll try that step of making raisin paste instead of just using whole raisins.

After the raisins were added, I added the spices.

Now again I had to fudge a little on the spicing.  I did not have any mace so I went with nutmeg.  Mace is the outer covering on a nutmeg with a slightly subtler less heavy taste.  So instead of 4.25 grams times 3 = 12.75 grams or (3 dirhams) of mace I used 3 grams of nutmeg instead of 12.75 grams or 3 dirhams.  I want a flavoring of nutmeg not an overwhelming taste.  I used the poor man’s saffron in 3 grams as well and 3 grams of Chinese cinnamon.  For a truly heavenly period taste, get the Chinese cinnamon if at all possible.  The regular every day grocery store cinnamon has no flavor compared to the really good Chinese cinnamon!

Here are the spices, still dry and in 1 cup ramekins.

I allowed everything to come to a bit of a simmer with lots of bubbles and a slight roil before turning off the heat.

Everything sat and melded for a few hours till cooler.

I then put a strainer over a cleaned bucket to pull out the raisins (and not just grape seeds) which is why I think the original way this was made was to cook the raisins till they dissolved.

Pour the boiled raisin/honey mixture over the strainer and into the bucket to strain out all the raisins. (Do NOT throw the raisins away!  They are excellent in other dishes with a slightly honey/spiced flavor)

Once the raisins had been strained,

I poured the mead into a clean glass carboy and added the remaining 10 lbs of water.  I added the water at this juncture instead of in the pot as my pot was not big enough to handle another 10 lbs of water.  This cooled the still fairly hot mead enough that the yeast could be added.

The finishing touch was a vapor lock as I know the yeast will do its thing and I prefer a non sticky floor due to a blown glass jar, which was a real possibility in period.

Now, this carboy has not been uncorked as of yet.  It needs another couple of months before I can start decanting the wine.  I’m already picking out the perfect meal to go with this!

We’re into the season for colds, flu and just blah.  In period, a variety of drinks and foods were laid out to help with these maladies.  Nyguil is a few centuries from being invented yet so you had to go with what was on hand.  Some people discovered that roses could be made into food and drink.  Here is one recipe that uses a syrup made of roses that helps to fortify.  (Single malt scotch really wasn’t an option here.)

Syrup of Dried Roses


Take a ratl of dried roses, and cover with three ratls of boiling water, for a night and leave it until they fall apart in the water.  Press it and clarify it, take the clear part and add it to two ratls of white sugar, and cook all this until it is in the form of a syrup.  Drink an uqiya and a half of this with three of water its benefits: it binds the constitution, and benefits at the start of dropsy, fortifies the other internal organs, and provokes the appetite, God willing. (Anonymouse Andalusian Cookbook, pp. A-73)


3 C rose petals

5 C water

6 C white sugar


For this redaction a little rose history is needed.  The information gathered for actual historic types of roses is rather thin.  So The rose petals used are actual rose petals from Pakistani.  The likely hood is high that these roses petals are from a Damasks type of rose.  There are two types of Damasks, summer and autumn.  These two differentiated by their bloom times.  One in summer and one in autumn.

A ratl = 1 lb.  1lb of rose petals is a LOT of rose petals.

As a reference the bag is 4 ounces of roses.  That’s about 6 cups of dried rose petals there.  That’s a lot…a lot! of rose petals.

So due to the lack of space for so many rose petals, I have changed the measurements for some thing a little more reasonable for the cooking pots I have on hand.

First I boiled 5 cups of water, then poured this over the 3 cups of rose petals (roughly 2 – 3 oz).

The water and roses sat over night imparting a wonderful smell through out the house.  Mmm…roses that aren’t cloying!

To remove the rose water, I hand squeezed balls of the rose petals to get every drop of moisture.

Now I could have placed a muslin cloth over another bowl and drained the water out that way then squeezed the cloth tightly.  This was just more fun and I had some really cool pictures of rose balls that formed after all the squeeeeeezing was done.  I used my squeeeeezing arm dontcha know.

This is what fresh rose water looks like.  Almost like a bowl of blood.  It’s not.  The smell is incredible.  Rose with out being cloying.  DO NOT DRINK THIS!!  This is incredibly astringent!!  If sugar were not added to this liquid no one, unless knocking on deaths door, would be able to choke this down.  Yes, it is that bad!

The rose scented/flavored water returned is roughly 4 cups.  This was then placed into a pot, to which I added 6 cups of sugar.

The mixture was boiled till a thick syrupy consistency was achieved.

At this point the syrup is ready to be bottled and served.  To serve the ratio is 1 part syrup to 2 parts water.  The syrup is very astringent.  You’ll want to cut the taste with water.  If the syrup is to astringent add more sugar.  In period sugar was used medicinally as a digestive stimulant, not an every day in every food imaginable additive.  So if the syrup needs a little help, add a bit of sugar.  It helps!!


Coffee Part 2

I love my coffee.  Over the years, I have developed a fondness for differently prepared types of coffee.  I would never have thought that different preparations could yield widely different tasting coffees.  Yep, I’ve done the same type of bean in two different brewing methods and come up with a different taste. I mean I really liked the regular drip coffee you can make or by buy, then I really got into the whole espresso machine made Americano Coffee.  Then, then I discovered a french press.  This was the best way I have found to make coffee.  (Note this is my opinion…and nothing but my opinion).

When using the french press I do like using regular beans, unflavored.  For some reason the flavor just comes out oddly in a french press then it does in either a drip or from and espresso machine.  The french press, is not period, having been invented some time in the 1800’s.  However the mechanism for making coffee in a french press are closer to boiling coffee grounds, but instead of waiting for the water to cool, grounds to sink, then reheat your coffee for drinking;  all you have to do is press down on a screen and viola! you have your favorite beverage hot, ground free and ready for adding that little bit of sugar and a hint (or a cup) of cream.

So I am going to do a demonstration of as close to period as I can with what I have on hand.

So the pictures I do have are of the coffee grounds having been added and water.  I usually let this steep for about 3-5 minutes depending on how strong a flavor I want.  If I am feeling really really decadent I add a Tbs of coco powder for just a hint of chocolate.  (My coffee!  Don’t judge me! hehehehe)

Now I like this lid as the filters are 3 part.  One for the main area, where the coffee comes through.  There is extra on the sides where grounds like to try and make a run for it into the main body of the coffee and finally at the actual pour spout there is another filter to help keep the grounds in their place and out of my mug!

Here you can see the press at the bottom of the glass, while the wonderful elixir known as coffee is waiting to be poured.

Here is the final image with coffee and cookies ready for consuming!  Yes these are the shortbread cookies that are really really excellent for noshing on when consuming a strong drink like coffee.  Enjoy!


Coffee is not just a morning indulgence nor, from historical writings, as benign a drink as one would have assumed. Coffee is a very Middle Eastern beverage that at one point rivaled wine in consumption and the indulgences associated with wine houses.

Coffee Plant: of the genus Coffea; the description is an evergreen bush from which the seeds (also known as beans) are the prized fruit of the bush.  Coffea Arabica and Coffea canephora are the two most commonly grown in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. (Wikipidea).

Origin: Coffee (Coffea) is thought to have started in Ethiopia then moved to the Arabian peninsula, via Sufi monasteries, migrating north then across the Atlantic. This movement followed trade but not the exact route of the Silk Road. (anonymous, http://www.coffeeresearch.org/coffee/history.htm)

Making of Coffee: There were more then a few travelers, priests and scholars who wrote of coffee and the making of this popular drink. In Coffee and Coffeehouses: The Rise of the Coffeehouse, one of the period commenter’s is  Jaziri,  says of the descriptions and preparations of coffee  “…in the summer the Arabs use the husks, and in the winter the kernels of the bean, to benefit from the application of “cold” nature of the husks and in the summer, and the “hot” nature of the kernels in winter.”.  Another example is from Kha’ir  Beg “cooked from the husks of the seed called bunn that comes from Yemen”.  A third example would be that of the Jesuit priest who say “water boiled with the rind of the fruit which they call Bune.  (Hattox, pp. 83-84)

The actual preparation was written by Niebhur as the bean was roasted slightly pounded then had boiling water poured over the grounds to produce a pleasant tea like beverage.  This type of coffee qahwa qishirya, with the flavoring of tea, is still served today in Yemen and tastes like an oddly spiced tea. (Hattox, pp. 85).  I would be curious to try, what sounds to be a milder version of what most people consider a strong stimulating drink.

Both a mortar and a mill were used for grinding of the bean as well as the husk after being roasted.  These methods were noted by the Flemish traveler Joannes Cotovicus. Though in later years, coffee millers took to the supplying of ground so that the individual coffee houses no longer had to worry about roasting and grinding their own coffee. (Hattox, pp. 85)

The coffee pot has been sketched as a squat round bodied pot “tinned inside and out” Hattox, pp. 86) with a narrow pouring spout and a side handle either sticking straight out or curved.

I have included a slightly out of period picture.  The description of this by the seller on Etsy http://www.etsy.com/listing/35229892/antique-middle-eastern-brass-coffee-pot

“The Arab coffee pot is called ‘Dallah’, a traditional pot with a long spout, used to make Arabic coffee. Dallah a symbol of welcome as coffee is always served to guests.

This particular pot was obviously created as a functional piece, likely for the makers personal use and presumably spent some time warming in the embers of a desert fire. Based on the crude decorative style I believe the piece dates to the 1800’s. I am uncertain as to the country of origin, however research suggests that the bird images used to decorate this dallah, might be that of a Simorgh, which is a famous mythical giant bird in Persian literature.

Height – 10″
Mouth – 3 1/4″
Width – 9 1/4″ (spout to handle)
Base – 3 1/8″
Weight – 1.12 lbs (28 oz)


I should – CLARIFY – that this IS NOT the EXACT coffee pot photographed in the National Geographic magazine, but rather the former owner used this publication source as a research reference for identifying the type of pot and it’s origin. They didn’t have the advantage of internet research back in the 1970’s. 

coffee pot pics

Serving: Coffee was served in small cups as seen in the sketches provided by Hattox in Coffee and Coffeehouses, by both coffee houses and by street vendors.

Venues: Coffeehouses were considers venues of social gathering for men but also where chess, backgammon and eventually card games were played, some times for stakes.  These houses were also the places where speech was more free and some times seditious plans, so much so that the sultanate Murat IV the forth had the “meeting places of the people, and of mutinous soldiers” torn down under the guise of places of fire hazards. (Hattox, pp. 102)

Coffees part in history is fairly colorful and well traveled.  There is no denying that coffee like tea and wine has a place in the great drinks of history.




Hattox, R., (1985). Coffee and Coffehouses.


During the hot Ansteorra summers at either home or on the road for events, some times plain water just wont quench that heat/fighting induced thirst that demands 2 gallons of water poured down the throat every hour.  This tea is a little odd with the vinegar but quite tasty…so tasty I keep this in the fridge just for regular days and not as an event only drink!

Syrup of Simple Sikanjabin

(Mint tea w/vinegar)


Take a ratl of strong vinegar and mix two ratls of sugar, and cook all this until it takes the form of a syrup.  Drink an uqiya of this with three of hot water when fasting.  While mint is not mentioned in the period translation (there seems to be only 2 listed with both being used for medicinal purposes) it is included in a large variety of period drinks of flavored syrups that are meant to be drunk, either hot or cold, but cut with water prior to drinking.

A Miscelleny pg. 104


1 gallon water

1/3 cup vinegar

2/3 – 1C table sugar

3 – 4 TBS dried loose leaf peppermint

My Redaction:

Add water, mint,  vinegar and sugar in a pot and boil for 2 minutes.

tea spices

That’s just about all there is; however I do add a few suggestions.  I do not put the mint in a tea ball but let the water boil .  The boiling causes the mint to sink to the bottom, so that when poured into a pitcher there is very little loose mint floating on the top or in the tea.

boiled tea

Unfortunately I don’t have any pretty pictures to show with the tea sitting in a decorative glass bottle.  This is fairly utilitarian on my part.  Give this a try though on one of those hot heat intensive days and you’ll be hooked!