Sour Dishes (Hawamid)

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So I made this dish a month or so back and really did it all wrong!  How you may ask?  Well for one, I used pomegranate molasses, because I had it on hand, instead of the juice.  Do NOT do this.  For the love of your taste buds…really do not do this.  Pomegranate molasses is great in some dishes but very tart.  Suck your face in through your cheeks tart.  So spend the time crushing and straining pomegranate seeds OR buy the juice (just juice nothing else in the juice!)

Tabikh Habb Rumman:

A cooked dish of pomegranate seeds

 Peacock and chicken with pomagranate 037


Finely pound pomegranate seeds and strain.  Thicken with shelled almonds.  Add sugar, mint, cinnamon, and mastic, allowing it to congeal over the fire.  Mix with chicken which has been boiled and baked.  Boil it.  If you want to put pumpkin with it, do so.  (Ibn al-‘Adim Kitab al-Wuslah/Salloum, pp. 98)



Whole chicken or 6 chicken thighs

1.5 C pomegranate juice

1 C shelled almonds (I used slivered…had ‘em on hand)

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon and ground mastic

1 tsp. sugar

2 tsp mint



Gather your items up.  Takes just a moment.

Peacock and chicken with pomagranate 010

I placed the chicken thighs in water to boil.

Peacock and chicken with pomagranate 033Ok, so this is the after boil picture.  The thighs had cooked about 10 minutes with me skimming the foam.  Hush…a novelty for sure!

The thighs were then placed in a baking dish to cook for 35 minutes at 350.

Peacock and chicken with pomagranate 018Fresh from the oven and roasting.  Personally, I can’t tell the difference of boiling then roasting instead of just roasting.  Perhaps it keeps the meat moist; however if you pay attention you can do this with roasting as well.  I’m sure somewhere, someone did this as a roast or just a boil and not both steps at once; however this time, we do both steps!

A quick note: Mastic smells a bit like pine resin yet has a slight almost lemon taste.  Don’t use a lot of this.  A little goes a loooong way.  This is more to perfume the dish then to add actual flavor.

The pomegranate juice was mixed with the almonds and spices.  The mixture is stirred till thickened.  The sauce smells amazing.  I can not emphasis how wonderful the aroma is.  Just beautiful.  I don’t normally wax enthusiastically about a smell over the taste, but the first thing you notice when cooking is just how gorgeous this sauce smells.  Take the time and take a few deep breaths; enjoying each inhale!

Peacock and chicken with pomagranate 032Yep, I went the easy buy the juice way.  It felt awesome!!  I highly recommend this.

I decided against pumpkin.  It is a period item but not one I had on hand easily today.  If you’re going to use pumpkin don’t use the orange ones!!  Those are modern and for show, being bred for size not taste.  Get a heritage pumpkin and roast that with just a touch of oil on the inside (after scooping out the seeds).

Pull the chicken out of the oven and place in the pot with the pomegranate mix.

Peacock and chicken with pomagranate 034

You can leave the pieces whole or shred.  Mix with the pomegranate sauce and serve over rice.   I do suggest leaving the chicken in the sauce till the meat is almost falling off the bone.  A long slow simmer of 30 minutes.

Peacock and chicken with pomagranate 037


January 31, 2017 | No comments

This dish is a wonderful mix of sweet and a little savory.  The spices blend with the sweet fruit for a delectable mix of new!  It also happens to be a fairly easy dish and I had all the ingredients on hand…but don’t let the easy part stop you from trying this dish!


Tajine Lamb and Sweet Plums

New pics 121119a 067


One and half ratls of meat, four uiqiyahs of prunes, a half ratl of onions, the weight of half and a quarter dirhams of saffron, and two and a half uqiyahs of raisins, and four uqiyahs of good quality wine vinegar in a pot large enough.  Boil the meat without spices.  When it is done, add the measure of a ratl and a half of water.  When the water boils, wash the onions cut them….Add them to this meat and leave to boil, letting the onions cook part way.  Then add to the pot the prunes which were soaked in water; raisins and jubjubes done in the same manner.  Leave to cook until the prunes and raisins sweeten.  If you wish, add three uqiyahs of sugar to the mixture after it comes to a boil. Dilute the saffron and add it.  When it comes to a hard boil, throw mint in it and atraf al-tib and lower the heat. (Kanz al-Fawd’id fi Tanwi al-Mawa’id/Salloum, pp. 49)


1 ½ lbs lamb (or beef or chicken)

1 onion

1 pinch saffron

½ C dried prunes

1 Tbs jujubes

½ C raisons

4 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 Tbs dried mint

½ C honey or sugar.


Gather everything together.

plums raisons jujubes

Soak the raisons and prunes in warm water or a sweet wine.

Add the meat to water.  Don’t drown the meat.  Use just enough water to cover.  Here I’ve used lamb neck bones.  I get a slightly fatty meat with excellent marrow.  This is not a standard cut of meat but one that should be tried occasionally for tender and very tasty!

raw lamb necks in pot

Next boil the meat until done and the water had reduced by half.  Add the chopped onions.

pouring vinegarAnd a little of the vinegar.

Next, while the onions are cooking with the meat, drain the prunes, raisons and jujubes.

soaking plums etcHer you can see I have each ingredient in it’s own bowl covered in water.  Drain the plums and raisins but hold the jujubes back for a moment.

crushed jujubeA close up of the jujubes.  Either before or after you’ve soaked them, squish the jujubes a little.  Don’t turn them into paste but do flatten them enough the skin breaks and they are no longer round.

Add the prunes, raisons and squished jujubes to the pot.

adding plums to cooking lamb

Next add the spices and saffron.

saffron and Rogan JoshHere is a good picture pre-cooking.

saffron in pot

Add in the basalmic vinegar and saffron.  Taste.  If the taste is a bit sour add sugar or honey till it is a just sweet enough.

honey towards the endYeah…I added a bit…of honey to the lamb.  I like mine sweet!  Don’t judge.  If salt is needed add a pinch.


New pics 121119a 067This is fork tender and so very very tasty.  You can serve this with rice or carrots or cabbage and you wouldn’t be wrong.  You may want to make a slightly larger pot then intended as this dish goes fast!



December 15, 2013 | No comments

With cold weather setting in once again, (funny how the seasons work and all that!) I thought now would be the time to add a warm sweet dish that is redolent of spices fruit and meat.

Mishmish Yabis

(Meat with Dried Apricots)

Apricot chicne in green bowl


Chop meat in small pieces and boil.  Put the broth aside.  Cook the onions, fresh coriander, and spices until limp and until the meat browns and changes color and the onions have shrunk.  Then take dried sweet-kernelled apricots and wash them in hot water for a while just until the pits can be easily removed with out damaging the apricots.  Arrange them on the fried meat and add enough broth to cover them.  Turn over every once in a while in order that the apricots are cooked very well.  When they are cooked, add honey and lemon juice.  If sour grape juice is available it is better then lemon juice because its aftertaste is distinct and sweet.  Cook it until its broth has dried up.  Add to it mint and fresh coriander.  If lemon juice is not used then replace it with the sour grape juice to make it more potent.  Add finely pounded spices, mint, fresh coriander and onions.  Cook, simmer, and spoon into a serving bowl and sprinkle on its both dried and chopped fresh coriander.  If dry apricot paste is available, the king made in Byzantium or in Medina, this is better then (sweet-kernelled) apricots.  (Ibn al-‘Adim, Kitab al-Wuslah ila al-Habib fi Wasf al-Tayyibat wa al-Tib/Salloum, pp. 80-81)


2 lbs chicken (beef or lamb)   3-4 C broth (enough to cover)    2 tbs olive oil

1 onion    ½ C honey   2 tbs coriander   1 pinch saffron  1 tsp cumin  1 tsp ginger  2 tbs mint

¼ C lemon juice  2/3 C apricots


1 C sweet wine (red or white)


First things first, gather up all your ingredients.

spices and wine on board

Set your apricots in warm water (or wine) until they are soft and pliable.

Next take your meat of preference, here I used chicken thighs, pour the broth into a pot and add the meat  Then boil for 10 minutes, just enough to lock in juices.

chicken cooking in wineAs you can see this is not broth but a sweet red wine.  I was feeling very Persian when I was cooking this.

Drain the meat form the broth and set the broth to the side.

In a pan, add olive oil, chopped onion, spices and meat.

all spices on top and onionsHere I used dried coriander as fresh was not available.  If you have, fresh used that, if not dried will work.

onions w wine cooked chickenLet the meat brown.

While the meat, onions and spices are browning, drain your apricots and add them to the pan.

apricots added to chickenThen add the lemon juice, honey and 1 C off the reserved broth.

sweetening w honeyAllow these to simmer until the broth is mostly cooked away.  Towards the end (before all the broth has simmered away) add in more mint and coriander.  Take a taste.  If you need a little more honey add a spoonful or two.  If you need a pinch of salt don’t hesitate to add just a touch.  This is to your taste.  Make it good!

Apricot chicne in green bowl


This is a great dish either own it’s own or over cardamom rice.  Take a bite, it is soooo good!



December 11, 2013 | No comments

Maghmum: the Veiled or Covered One. Zesty Almond and Chicken Pie

chicken w roman carrots and barley salad

Take a cleaned chicken and put it, as is, whole, with its breast split, in a pot with salt, oil, black pepper and dried coriander and a small onion.  Cook half way.  Then, then take it out and put it in another pot and put on it its broth, macerated (naqui) murri, saffron, rue, thyme and citron leaves. Put in its cavity a lime.  Scatter over it peeled almonds and cover the top of the pot with dough.  Place it in the oven until it is cooked, then use.

(al-Tujibi, Fadalah al-Khiwan fi Tayyibat al-ta’am wa a;-A;wan/Saaloum, pg. 109.)


1 whole chicken or Chicken thighs

1 tsp salt

3 Tbs oil

1 tsp crushed black pepper

1 tsp dried coriander or 1 Tbs dried cilantro leaves

1 sm onion chopped

1 C chicken broth

½ tsp fish sauce

1 pinch saffron

1 tsp thyme

1 handful citron or kafir lime leaves with the center vein pulled out

1 lime quartered


½ cup chopped or sliced almonds


1 pie crust:

2 C flour

1 1/3 stick of butter

¼ C CHILLED water

½ tsp salt


I had to change this slightly.  Instead of using a whole chicken, I used chicken thighs because it’s a small household and I am not feeding 15.  I will explain how use this recipe with a whole chicken as we go, but don’t be worried if you only see chicken thighs in the pictures.

First, I gathered all the ingredients together for frying.

Ingredients for Lime Chicken

I poured the oil into a pan,

Get the oil to a good temperature (dribble a couple drops of water into the oil, when it sizzles the oil is ready).  Then I liberally applied salt, pepper and dried cilantro leaves (or if you prefer ground coriander…same plant different name).

pepper on frying chicken

The dried cilantro leaves aren’t as potent as the ground coriander.  Dried leaves take up more room then ground, so you need a little more dried leaves then of the ground spice.

Once the chicken was thoroughly coated, I placed the chicken into the frying pan, turning every 3-5 minutes.  If you are using a whole chicken, cut the chicken in half, coat as you would the thighs and brown the same way.  You just have one very large piece to turn instead of several smaller pieces.

Once the chicken has browned and partially cooked, pull from the pan and place the piece(s) on a plate.  Next, fry up the chopped onion in the spiced chicken broth and oil until translucent.  Place to the side.

Pull out a Dutch oven or a large clay-baking dish.  Lightly oil the bottom and place the lime quarters (or if you prefer rounds) in the dish.

deviened kafir leaves and limes

Mix the broth, fish sauce, saffron, thyme and kafir leaves together.

limes and kafir leaves for chicken

Put half the mixture over the lime wedges, then put the chicken thighs (or the whole chicken) over them.  Sprinkle the remaining spices over the chicken.

limes under and kafir over chicken

Over this place the almonds,

smothered in almondsYeah, here I added almost a whole cup of chopped almonds.  You really don’t want this many almonds.  It’s yummy crunchy fun, but a full cup is waaaay to much.  Scale down to about 1/2 or 1/4 depending on preference.

Then the pie crust.

trimming pastry crust

Next add small vents for the steam to escape from.

heat vents for pastry

This dish will be incredibly lime and chicken flavor.

chicken w roman carrots and barley salad

Here is the dish after pulling (messily) from my clay baking dish with Roman Carrots and a spinach and barely salad.  The meat, is tender and so many flavors you would almost swear there is an opera going on in your mouth.  The other flavors are the back up singer to this glorious dish!


November 11, 2013 | No comments

I had a bit of spare lamb meat on hand from doing a presentation for another lamb dish, so I decided to try another dish of tasty lamb.  Mutton is not some thing I am eager to eat on a regular basis due to the very strong flaovr however a good lamb should never be passed up!


(Lamb or Goat with spices)


#1.)  Take a suckling kid, scald it and cut up into joints, then boil it lightly in vinegar and take it out.  Then dry it off and fry it in fresh sesame oil.  When it is done and lightly browned, throw soy sauce to cover on it and season it with the well-known spices, which are coriander, caraway and finely milled Chinese cinnamon.  If you like, sprinkle it with a little lemon juice, and it comes out excellently.

#2.)  Boil a kid, after being cut up into joints, in water and salt.  Then fry it in sesame oil and season it with mentioned spices and put in vinegar and soy sauce mixed together.  It comes out excellently.

#3.)  Joint a kid and boil it in vinegar and throw it in sesame oil and fry it in it and flavour it with spices.  If you want it sadhij, boil it in water with mastic and Chinese cinnamon, and fry it in fresh sesame oil and season it with spices.  These recipes might be made with lamb also.

Rodinson, pp. 377


2 lbs goat or lamb (cubed)

2 TBS sesame oil

1 tsp ea. cinnamon, caraway (seeds or ground), coriander cumin

1/3 cup vinegar

1/3 cup soy sauce

My Redaction:

The choice is between lamb or goat.  Either meat has a rather strong flavor and requires a little extra seasoning.  If beef is chosen instead cut the spices down by half.  The meat I did go with was lamb, which is readily available.  The cut of the meat is cubed leg.  The meat will cook down so don’t worry if 2 lbs sounds like a lot.

The recipe does not specify a cut just that the meat is well marbled; and lamb meat is certainly well marbled!

Mutajjanat spices

Take the cubed meat and boil in water with the vinegar till tender.  If a stronger vinegar flavor is preferred wait to use the vinegar till just before removing the cooked meat from the end stage of frying.  Drain the meat thoroughly.

Place the meat in a large enough pan with sesame oil and cook till browned.

boiled lamb about to be fried

Add spices (and vinegar if desired NOT extra vinegar though) and toss so that all the meat is well coated.

mutajjanat w spices

The vinegar and soy sauce cut down the mutton taste (even in lamb) that is present, making the dish less gamy.  The spices can be toned down or added to depending on the taste of the cook.

cooked lamb

This dish would be excellent over saffron rice or even stuffed into bread with a garlic yogurt sauce.  Very very yummy!

I have made this dish many times and each time a little differently.  Each time I really love the results.  The meat can change, the cooking can be with either fresh or pickled plums.  Vegetables can be a part of or not and this always turns out excellently.  This dish is so very forgiving but always worth the effort.

This dish is a melt in your mouth fall festivle of sweet sour and smoooooth.  Remember those pickled plums (Qarasiya Mukhallala)?  Well we’re going to use those in this dish (though you don’t have to).  If pickled plums aren’t available use fresh plums!


(Meat with Plums)


Boil meat and plums.  Fry vegetables – Swiss chard, eggplant, carrots, gourds and so on.  Macerate the plums in the meat broth and strain it and put it with the vegetables.  Then sweeten it and garnish it with walnuts and parsley. (Rodinson, pg. 472)


2lbs Beef, Venison or Lamb       3 cups pickled plums w/juice ***

¼ cup chopped walnuts                                  3 Tbs fresh chopped parsley


3 cups carrots  (or combination eggplant, swiss chard, spinach, squash etc)

2 Tbs sesame oil

***If pickled plums are not available use:

2 C. fresh plums               3 Tbs honey           1 Tbs vinegar             1 C water

My redaction:

I took regular beef stew meat this time and place the meat in a pot with 3 cups of pickled plums w/ juice.  Now the plums I had pickled were put up about 5 months ago and were very very ripe.  For plums that can be served on their own and used for garnish you want to make sure that the plums are firm.  If very ripe plums are used it is more then likely that the pickling will result in a fabulous sweet/tart plum juice and shreds of plum (which work very well for this dish also!).


The plum juice is front and center.  The actual plums (in this case plum mush) are waiting to join the meat and juice in a nice long simmering bath)

meat w plums cooking

While the meat and the plums are cooking, start the carrots.  I took the 3 cups of carrots and tossed them with the sesame oil then placed in the oven for the same amount time that the meat will be simmering in the plum bath.

carrots w oil

The recipe calls for frying which takes a lot of time standing at the stove and stirring.  I chose to by pass this with excellent results by just using the oven and oil.  Works very well.  This method will work for other vegetables as well though I do suggest that carrots be cooked first (as they are firmer) then as the cooking winds down the softer veggies such as squash and swish chard are mixed about half way to 2/3 of the way to being done.  Soft cooked veggies are desired, not mushy veggies.

So carrots at 350 for about 1 hour or for as long as it takes the meat to become tender in the plum bath.  Allow the plum broth to reduce by 1/2 and thicken to an almost gravy like consistency.

Once the meat has simmered till just about falling apart tender (1- 1.5 hours), pull out the carrots (or other veggies) and place them in a ceramic dish leaving an empty spot in the center.    Place the meat chunks into the center of the veggies until all the meat is in the center or the dish is in peril of over flowing.  Spoon the plum sauce over the meat, then spinkle with chopped walnuts and parsley.

finished dish

This dish is excellent hot or cold, served on a bus or on a train, in the dark or in the rain.


(Meat with Carrots and Raisins)

This dish can be made with any type of meat i.e. beef, venison, duck etc.  I chose to use chicken as it was conveniently in my freezer when I came across this recipe.

For the original translation:

The way to make it is to cut up fat meat medium then throw it in the pot with a little salt and water to cover.  Boil it and take of its scum. When it is nearly done, throw on chopped up onions, which you have washed with warm water and salt, and peeled carrots from which you have removed that which is inside them (viz. the woody core).  Throw on dry coriander, cumin, cinnamon, mastic and pepper.  Then take the necessary amount of black raisins and pound them fine, then macerate them by hand and strain them.  Take two parts of their juice and one part of good sharp vinegar, and throw them in the pot.  Pound some walnuts and macerate them with the mentioned juice, and throw them on it.  Crumble bunches of dried mint onto the pot.  Leave the pot on the fire to grow quiet and take it up, after wiping its sides with a clean cloth.

(Rodinson, pp. 318)


8 chicken thigh  1 medium onion            2 cups carrots               1 tsp salt

½ tsp ea. Ground cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and pepper corns

1 cup walnuts         1 cup black raisins          2 tbs vinegar            2 tbs dried mint

(*Note: if using preserved raisins from the redaction, Zabb Wa-Nana, no extra vinegar, mint or cinnamon will be needed)

hubaishiyya w chicken2


For the actual cooking part, I took the chicken cut into pieces (any meat cut into pieces will do) and placed the pieces into a pot and covered with water.  I only covered 1 inch over the meat and added the salt.

This should be a thick, almost dry stew, not a soup.  Think some thing that is thick enough to sop up with bread or scoop up with fingers.  When the chicken was almost finished cooking I added the onions and carrots.

hubaishiyya stove top chicken

The carrots I could probably have used to cut smaller even though I matchsticked (roughly) the baby carrots used.  As can be seen the stew is thickening well as part of the water has cooked off at this point.  In period, some carrots were considered very woody to the tasty and the core was cut out to prevent a dish from having the harsh tasteless part of a carrot included.  Most of today’s modern carrots do not suffer from this problem.

This stage of the dish cooked for 10 minutes or roughly when the onions were translucent.  I took the cup of preserved raisins, set them into my Cuisinart and gushyfied them.  Also known as pounded to a pulp.  (Yes, I cheated this historic part.  I was not about to spend 20 minutes pounding wet gushy raisins into a paste by hand.  I will for pepper corns and mustard seeds but raisins are right out.)  The raisins then the remaining spices into the dish.  I added the walnuts as well which really thickened the soup up by quit a bit.  Cook for 5-10 more minutes then serve with a side of rice or couscous and pita bread!

hubiaishiyya bowl

This is actually a little soupier then I really wanted however the dish was really good and makes a great winter time type of stew.

Zabib Wa-NaNa

(Raisins and Mint)

This next recipe is the first step for another recipe.    I figured you would want this recipe instead of having to guess where the raisins and mint came from in Hubaishiyya (Chicken with Carrots and Raisins).

The original translation goes as follows:


Take black raisins, as big as you want, and put them in lukewarm water awhile.  Then wash them and leave them on a woven mat to dry well in the shade.  Then take Chinese cinnamon, mastic and rose hips, all ground fine, and a little salt all the afwah al-tib, and sprinkle them on it and put it in a glass jar.  Pour sharp vinegar on it to cover by two fingers and put it up.  As for mint, strip its leaves from its stems and sprinkle with those spices and afwah and put them in a glass jar and put with vinegar and cover the tops.

(Rodinson, pp. 395)

The ingredients I use are:

2 cups black raisons

1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp mastic

2 tbs rose hips

¼ tsp salt

2 tbs dried mint

My redaction for this recipe:

I took the raisins, placing them in a bowl, and soaked them in warm water for about 3 minutes.  I went on to a limb and assumed the the period dried raisins were extremely dry and hard and required a lot of re-hydration which modern raisins do not.  I drained the excess water from the bowl of raisins then added ground cinnamon, mastic and rose hips.  (Funny store about how I have 8 lbs of rose hips on hand but that’s for another time.)  Once the raisins and spices were mixed, I place everything into a jar and poured vinegar over them till the mixture was covered by 1 1/4 inch of liquid.  If you want to add honey to this for a sweet(er)/tart flavor.  Covering the extra 1 1/4 inch prevents mold from reaching the fruit and growing.  Vinegar with or with out honey and water was one of the natural ways in which a medieval culture preserved their foods.

I don’t have a picture of these prior to cooking in the dish Hubaishiyya.  At this point imagine a bowl of raisins in a bowl with vinegar.   (I know sounds absolutely hideous to today’s modern palate but the sweet and sharp of these raisins arepretty good!