[Sca-cooks] groundnuts (N o - pls), continued - horchata (Lilinah)

Lilinah lilinah at earthlink.net
Sat Oct 13 18:04:42 PDT 2007

Suey wrote:

Lilinah wrote
>>I was re-reading the Anonymous Andalusian... and i noticed a 
>>beverage recipe that calls for "silk almonds" and i've been 
>>wondering since before i read Devra's post if the plant mentioned 
>>above might be what the recipe is asking for.

>I going to put into [] to show what Huici says in his translation of 
>the  same:
>>  Here's the Recipe, including Charles Perry's footnote:
>  >
>  > 11. Syrup of Harir [ftn 1: a warm drink imbibed at sunset to 
>break Ramadam in Fez]: Way of Making It

Just as Perry is not certain what Harir are and muses about mulberry, 
perhaps Huici is mistaken in conflating Harira and Syrup of Harir.

>>  Take the almonds of silk [214] and extract from them the small 
>>seeds after removing their hearts, four ratls [Take the milk 
>>extracted from almond grains after removing the heart, 4 lbs]. Then 
>>divide almonds [almond] and clean the dirt from them [it], wash 
>>them [it] very well in cold water until softened, and drain the 
>>water. Then take water out of a river oriented Eastward; heat 
>>polished steel and cool it in this water until the water is reduced 
>>by half and changes color. Cook the harir in this water until its 
>>substance comes out; press it,  and add to the water three ratls 
>>[lbs]of honey, cleaned of its [skim off] foam. The bag: half an 
>>uqiya [1/2 oz] each of cinnamon and cloves, an uqiya [1 oz] of 
>>ginger, an uqiya [1 oz]each of cubebs [kababa, ftn 2 pepper from 
>>China. In Fez a dish of kabab is made],

Here Huici is WAY off base. Kabob, however one may transliterate the 
word, refers basically in the Andalusian cookbook to meatballs, 
although today it may be meat chunks on a skewer. Cubeb is a relative 
of pepper, mostly from Indonesia, particularly the island of Java. 
There's no relationship between the two. It seems to me another way 
for Huici to justify conflating Syrup of Harir and the meaty soup 

>>long pepper and galingale [heath]. Then pound roots and put them in 
>>a bag, which is then tied with a strong thread and added to the 
>>honey and the clean part. Put it on the fire and cook it until a 
>>syrup is made. Drink two uqiyas [ozs ]of this with three of hot 
>>water. It profits in the lack of urine, and increases desire well; 
>>it dissolves the fat from all parts of the body and heats it well, 
>>God willing, by its generosity and virtue.
>>  [214] "harir" means silk; is this a recipe for seeds of the 
>>mulberry, on whose leaves silkworms feed?(CP)
>     The "harir" sounds like a very distant cousin of harira which we
>traditionally drink at sunset in Morocco from the day we first went
>there to today during Ramadan at sunset to break the fast which is very
>rich with noodles, chicken or lamb and heaven knows what else but all we
>have tasted is delicious even at truck stops on the roads of the Atlas
>Mountains without even mentioning that served in friends' homes.

I seriously doubt the words are cognate. "Harir" means "silk" in 
Arabic. I'm not sure of the derivation of "harira", but i'm highly 
skeptical that the roots are the same. Harira is indeed tasty, but 
it's a meaty soup. Whereas Syrup of Harir is a very sweet and spicy 
beverage syrup.

>Lilanah, were you reading my mind or I yours last night when I made big
>batch of harira before reading your message? I thought it was wonderful
>when I tasted it hot in the pot but doggone today I don't like it. I
>forgot the peppercorns, dang it! - the only ingredient harira might have
>in common with "harir".

Well, it is the end of Ramadan :-)

>     -Could 'harir' be an horchata?- you ask. Horchata was made with
>almond milk in Castile in the 15th century but not in Al Andalus between
>the 12th - 15th. Hispano-Muslims always used the chufa nut or whatever
>you call it (please, please chufas are not groundnuts, neither is a nut.
>Both are tubers - that's all they have in common.)

Well, then it sounds as if "silk almonds" could be chufa.

>horchata is always served cold and is a summer time refreshing,
>refreshing (SNIP)
>Finally, I have never seen an horchata recipe with honey

But no reason why 800 years ago a beverage similar to horchata could 
not be made with honey... Things change over that many centuries. The 
recipes for many of the beverage syrups in the Andalusian cookbook 
say they are meant to be drunk hot, yet we modern folks would prefer 
to drink them cold.

>P.S. My dear Lilinah, don't prance around the mulberry tree any more.
>Your silk is not there.

I wasn't. As i noted in my first message, that was from Charles Perry 
(CP), who was not making a statement. He was not sure what "Silk 
Almonds" are, he was just pondering.

Here's the recipe "broken out".
Words in [square brackets] are my own comments and musings.

Syrup of Almonds of Silk


4 ratl Almonds of Silk
3 ratl Honey
The bag:
1/2 uqiya Cinnamon
1/2 uqiya Cloves
1 uqiya Cubebs
1 uqiya Long Pepper
1 uqiya Galangal

DIRECTIONS [somewhat simplified]

1. Take silk almonds and extract the small seeds from them after 
removing their hearts and clean well in water.
[since chufa are little tubers, then i guess they doesn't have seeds 
in them, so my initial musing is wrong]
2. Then take water out of a river oriented Eastward; heat polished 
steel and cool it in this water until the water is reduced by half 
and changes color.
[i wonder about this - does this add some medicinal property? Or is 
this just a way of purifying the water?]
3. Cook the silk almonds in this water until its substance comes out; press it.
4. Add honey to the silk almond water
5. In a bag of fine cloth put the cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cubebs, 
long pepper and galangal. Then pound roots and put them in a bag, 
which is then tied with a strong thread.
[many recipes in this book call for putting spices into a bag rather 
than directly into the syrup to keep it clearer]
[galangal is a rhizome, as is ginger - are these the roots to be pounded?]
6. Put the bag in the honey-silk almond water
7. Put it on the fire and cook it until a syrup is made.
8. Drink two uqiyas of this with three of hot water.

Clearly the recipe depends on the unknown primary ingredient, silk almonds...
Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

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