Midieval Middle Eastern Books

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The Sweets of Araby

book cover


This book took a little to warm up to.  It’s not that the recipes aren’t good (or period) but the presentation is far more modern then I am use to.  The original translations with documentation is on the side in a very cute keyhole panel and the stories that accompany them are cute.  This book was made for a modern day cook.

If you want a book on medieval Middle Eastern sweets this is a very good book.  Multiple recipes from multiple sources with original recipes and redactions for those who need.  The stories are also helpful but unknown if truly historic or…  A for period recipes and a B+ only because it’s cutsy.  Yes I get to call a book cutsy!  It’s in the rules…some where.

August 23, 2014 | No comments

Scheherazade’s Feast:

Scheherazade's Feasts: Foods of the Medieval Arab World


I’ve had this book for a little bit and I really like the feel and flow of the recipes.  The book has great original translated recipes and there are are also redactions for those who want/need a little extra help.   The book is not as extensive in recipes as other books nor as inclusive on historical facts as I would like.  Hence an A for cooking but a C+ for historical facts.  This is a great starting book or an additional supplement for new recipes.

August 23, 2014 | No comments

I didn’t get to go to Pennsic this year, but I did get to indulge in one of my favorite Pennsic past times. Book shopping. Namely cookbook shopping. I must admit I prefer being able to actually look at the books so I can see if they have period recipes for redacting. The ones I prefer and promote do. I stumbled across the Arabian Nights Cookbook on Amazon promoted as a book based on period recipes.


I like the cookbook, but it is NOT period. The dishes are modern without historical input. I was very sad to find this out when I received the book. I do like the recipes, but if you are looking for historical recipes, this is NOT the book to get. Get this book if you want modern cookbook though.

For my birthday, I received a few books.  One of which was a cooking/court life book.  I was a little hesitant as cookbooks and court books are usually separated into different books.  I am pleasantly surprised, my first run through on recipes yielded at least 8 recipes I want to try this weekend!

The Nimatnuma Manuscript of the Sultans of Mandu

The Sultans Book of Delights

I enjoy this book quite a bit.  There are recipes for different meat dishes, soups, and birds.  There are also recipes for perfumes and what we would call body splashes (which have been rare as hens teeth to find information on).  There are recipes on drinks and sweets.

As for the hunting portions, I really enjoy these sections as well.  The details are not so much as stories but a list of what to bring and why.  Not only favorite dishes/drinks and perfumes are included for the Sultan but on ways to reward his generals with tokens of gold/silver as well as food and drink.  There is also an account on how to to cook at a camp site with skewers, meat and bread.

The book also contains quiet a few pictures of hunting scenes and camping scenes as well as pages and pages of manuscripts.  There is also a section on measurements and a section with period words and their English definition.  A real bonus!

The down side is that all the hunting and cooking scenes are in not in color.  The cooking section (and hunting portions) are roughly 1/4 of the entire text.  My feelings are that while the manuscripts in the original writings are pretty…the book could probably have benefited from a good pruning of pages.

This is not a beginners book.  The recipes have some measurements for spices.  Each “section” or paragraph can have 2-4 recipes so a weathered eye on which ingredients need to go with which recipes in these sections.  Overall I give the book an A for period recipes, definitions, pictures and calligraphy.  For cooking an B, for multiple recipes and some measurements.


Here are the books that are a must for your Medieval Middle Eastern collection of cookbooks.

Medieval Arab Cookery by Rodinson, Arberry & Perry.  This book will be your bible for research and recipes.  The recipes are translation.  There are few measurements.  Yet the information is incredible.  This is THE mainstay for historic Middle Eastern recipes.

Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World by Zaouali. This book has translations with few measurements as well.  At the end of the book are recipes given for by the author of their rendition for some of the period recipes.  I didn’t agree with some of the given recipes as they seem to be only loosely based on the period translation.  I like the original historic part and have used the given recipes as a secondary source for reverse redactions.  This also has great historical references and research.

A Baghdad Cookery Book by Perry.  This book is Perry’s idea of going back to the recipes he redacted for A Medieval Arab Cookery and updating/correcting a few of the translation.  Minimal history and some duplication from Medieval Arab Cookery.  Useful.