[Sca-cooks] Period Chicken Salad

Anne-Marie Rousseau dailleurs at liripipe.com
Mon Aug 14 19:39:55 PDT 2006

Isn't safflower a new world plant, related to the sunflower?

What an interesting dish though! The combo of chicken and cucumber isn't
one I'd ever considered....


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From: sca-cooks-bounces at lists.ansteorra.org
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lilinah at earthlink.net
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2006 6:36 PM
To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org
Subject: [Sca-cooks] Period Chicken Salad

9th century, 'Abbasid Dynasty, Baghdad

I served this at a Laurel vigil buffet for two vigilees simultaneously.

translated by David Waines in "In a Caliph's Kitchen", pp. 82-83

Two parts almonds and sugar and two parts vinegar and mustard mixed 
together in a vessel with partially dried safflower adding colour 
around the edges. Cucumber peeled, qutha and faqqas and pomegranate, 
chopped up small and sprinkled around the vessel. Add a little oil. 
Take a fine young chicken, cooked in vinegar, jointed and cut up in 
pieces and placed over the other ingredients in one vessel. Decorate 
the dish with pomegranate (seeds) and with almonds and olives chopped 
up fine.

Comments [by David Waines]
This cold dish made from chicken was devised by Ibrahim ibn al-Mahdi. 
The recipe is expressed in poetic form, not surprising from a man who 
was not only a gourmand, but well known as a poet too. He describes 
the dish as perfect summertime fare. The physician al-Razi observes 
that such dishes of the bawarid type, when made with vinegar or with 
the juice of sour fruits, serve to cool the temperament and moderate 
it. "Qutha" and "faqqus", mentioned in the original recipe, are 
species of cucumber.
- - - - - David Waines, In a Caliph's Kitchen, pp. 82-83


9 lb. chicken parts
bottle (about 24 oz.) rice vinegar
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup prepared Dijon mustard
partially dried safflower
2 English Cucumbers, diced (no need to peel or seed)
seeds from 3 pomegranates
1/2 cup sesame oil
2 cups slivered blanched almonds
1 cup pitted purple/black olives
1 cup pitted green olives

1. Cook chicken in vinegar, adding a little water as necessary.
The liquid doesn't need to completely cover the chicken, as long as 
the cook periodically turns pieces so all spend time submerged. I 
don't remember how long this took - 1/2 hour?
2. Mix together almonds and sugar, with vinegar and mustard and 
spread around serving dish, then put safflower around the edges.
3. Cut cucumber into medium sized dice. No need to peel or seed.
4. Peel pomegranates over a bowl of cold water, dropping seeds into 
water. When done, remove "floaty bits" and drain seeds. Take care 
because pomegranate can stain.
5. Sprinkle cucumber and 2/3 of pomegranate seeds around serving dish 
on top of mustard sauce.
6. Sprinkle with a little oil.
7. Cool chicken, joint it and cut up in pieces.
8. Place chicken over the other ingredients in serving dish.
9. Decorate the dish with additional pomegranate seeds, slivered 
almonds, and sliced olives.

1. I used rice vinegar to cook the chicken because it is milder than 
wine vinegar and i didn't want the vinegar taste to be too strong.
2. Prepared Dijon mustard was a short cut; i realize it is not really 
"period". It is unclear whether powdered mustard seed or a prepared 
mustard would be used in the original.
3. I used safflower, but i think saffron would be more effective.
4. English cucumbers are the closest i could find to those Middle 
Eastern cucumbers. They are so much nicer than the usual cucumbers, 
much less bitter, less watery, and not "burpy" at all.
5. For the Vigil, we skinned the cooked chicken, then separated the 
meat from the bones, discarding fat and connective tissues.
6. For the Vigil, we tossed the cucumber with the mustard sauce, and 
took all ingredients to the site in separate zip-close bags, then 
tossed chicken with mustard-tossed cucumber and 2/3 of pomegranates, 
then put it on the platter and decorated it.
7. I used two colors of olives for aesthetic purposes.

This works well even if all the ingredients are tossed together, 
because of their varied colors, although the presentation is far less 

Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita
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