[Sca-cooks] Period substitute for tomatoes?

Elaine Koogler kiridono at gmail.com
Fri Aug 21 06:56:02 PDT 2009

Instead of looking for something to substitute in a modern recipe to follow
period constraints, why not look at actual period recipes?  If you go
to http://www.medievalcookery.com/etexts.html

you will find numerous period Middle Eastern cookbooks in translation,
including the "Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook" which is from southern Spain.
Here are some recipes I've used in the past.  They are all vegetarian and
gluten free:

*Badinjan Muhassa  (mezze)*

* *

*5/8 pound eggplant*

*3/4 cup walnuts*

*1 5/8 T vinegar (for nut dough)*

*3/8 t salt (for nut dough)*

*1/8 t pepper and salt*

*3/4 t caraway seed*

*1 1/4 T vinegar (at the end)*

*1/4 cup chopped raw onion*

*1*.     Simmer the eggplant 20 to 30 minutes in salted water (1/2 t salt in
a pint of water).

*2*.     Let it cool. Peel it. Slice it and let the slices sit on a colander
or a cloth for an hour or so, to let out the bitter juice.

*3*.     Grind the walnuts, add vinegar and salt to make a dough.

*4*.     Make patties about 1/2" thick and put them on a frying pan at
medium to medium high heat, without oil. In about half a minute, when the
bottom side has browned a little, turn the patty over and use your pancake
turner to squash it down to about 1/4" (the cooked side is less likely to
stick to your implement than the uncooked side).

*5*.     Continue cooking, turning whenever the patty seems about to scorch.
When you are done, the surface of the patty will be crisp, brown to
black-and since it is thin, the patty is mostly surface. If the patties
start giving up lots of walnut oil (it is obvious-they will quickly be
swimming in the stuff) the pan is too hot; throw them out, turn down the
heat and make some more.

*6*.     Chop up the eggplant, mix in the nut patties (they will break up in
the process), add pepper, salt, caraway (ground in a spice grinder or mortar
and pestle), and vinegar. Top with onion. Eat by itself or on bread.

*Servings*: 8

*Notes*: Cook eggplants until soft by baking, boiling or grilling over the
fire, leaving them whole. When they are cool, remove the loose skin, drain
the bitter liquor and chop the flesh fine. It should be coarser than a true
purée. Grind walnuts fine and make into a dough with vinegar and salt. Form
into a patty and fry on both sides until the taste of raw walnut is gone;
the vinegar is to delay scorching of the nuts. Mix the cooked walnuts into
the chopped eggplant and season to taste with vinegar and ground caraway
seed, salt and pepper. Serve with a topping of chopped raw or fried onion.

FOR FEAST:  entire dish can be made at pre-cook

*Source*: Ibn al-Mahdi's cookbook in 10th c. collection, Charles Perry tr.

*Copyright*: Cariadoc's Miscellany. The Miscellany is Copyright (c) by David
Friedman and Elizabeth Cook, 1988, 1990, 1992.

*Muzawwara (feast)*

* *

*1 pkg (1#) lentils*

*5 cups water*

*1/4 cup cider vinegar*

*3/4 t ground coriander*

*3/4 t cumin*

*1 1/2 t cinnamon*

*6 threads saffron*

*1/4 cup oil*

*1 t salt*

one of the following:

*1 1/2 pounds butternut squash*

*1 pound chard or beet leaves*

*1 pound lettuce*

*2 8" cucumbers*

* *

*1*.     Boil lentils about 40 minutes until they start to get mushy.

*2*.     Add spices and vinegar and oil.

*3*.     Add one of the vegetables; leafy vegetables should be torn up,
squash or cucumbers are cut into bite-sized pieces and cooked about 10-15
minutes before being added to lentils.

*4*.     Cook lettuce or chard version for about 10 minutes, until leaves
are soft. Cook squash or cucumber version about 20 minutes. Be careful not
to burn during the final cooking.

* *

*Servings*: 6

*Notes*: Take boiled peeled lentils and wash in hot water several times; put
in the pot and add water without covering them; cook and then throw in
pieces of gourd, or the stems [ribs] of Swiss chard, or of lettuce and its
tender sprigs, or the flesh of cucumber or melon, and vinegar, coriander
seed, a little cumin, Chinese cinnamon, saffron and two ûqiyas of fresh oil;
balance with a little salt and cook. Taste, and if its flavor is pleasingly
balanced between sweet and sour, [good;] and if not, reinforce until it is
equalized, according to taste, and leave it to lose its heat until it is
cold and then serve.

THOUGHTS ABOUT COOKING FOR FEAST:  Cook lentils with water vinger and
seasonings at pre-cook.  Day of--prepare veggies, bring lentils to serving
temp, and complete cooking with veggies.

*Source*: Andalusian p. A-52

*Copyright*: Cariadoc's Miscellany. The Miscellany is Copyright (c) by David
Friedman and Elizabeth Cook, 1988, 1990, 1992.

and, finally, a recipe for a type of Biryani that is period:

*Lazizan (Vegetable Biryani)*

Redacted by the Madrone Culinary Guild (An Tir)

     1/4  pound  lentils -- soaked for 2 hours

     1/8  pound  onions -- minced

  1       15-oz can  Garbanzo beans -- rinsed and drained

    1/16 quart  water -- boiling

     1/8  cup  ghee

     1/4  tablespoon  garam masala

     1/8  tablespoon  salt

     1/4  tablespoon  fresh ginger

     1/4  pound  Basmati rice   (8 cups)

     1/8  pound  chopped pistachio nuts or almonds

     1/8  cup  raisin

     1/4  tablespoon  garam masala

    1/16 cup  ghee

In a large pot, fry onions in 2 T. ghee till golden. (10 - 15 min. over med.

Add garam masala, salt and fresh ginger, stir well. Add rice and saute 3 - 5
minutes till golden  Carefully add the boiling water  Let rice boil 3 - 5
minutes, then add drained dal.

Let cook for 25 minutes total.

While rice is cooking, fry nuts and raisins and 1 tsp garam masala in 1 tbsp
ghee till almonds are golden.  Add chickpeas, stir for a minute or two, then
add mixture to rice pot.  Check liquid levels in rice as well as rice
texture.  Add liquid if needed.  Cook uncovered for a little while if too


  ""A Dinner from Moghul India"--Madrone Culinary Guild--taken from similar
examples in Ain-I-Akbari by Abu al-Fazl ibn Mubarak.  A 16th c. Mughal

NOTES : Akbar's son Jahangir was particularly fond of a dish called Lazizan,
a khichri of rice cooked with pulses, spices and nuts. This made an
excellent vegetarian alternative to Meat Biriyani.  Although there is no
original recipe, the above description made an excellent starting point.

I hope that you find these useful.  And they are different from the usual
modern Middle Eastern foods.  Good luck!


On Fri, Aug 21, 2009 at 9:10 AM, Judith Epstein <judith at ipstenu.org> wrote:

> I was a vegetarian for over a decade, and frequently cooked for vegan
> friends as well. I've kept kosher for about eight years now. I frequently
> host friends with Celiac disease, and cook gluten-free for them. You don't
> even want to KNOW how complicated my Passover menu plans can get, honoring
> kosher Celiac vegetarians.
> Now I'm looking not just at religious or health-related restrictions, but
> also at Period-correct cooking. I know tomatoes couldn't be found in use
> until VERY late in Period, and even then, only for a handful of areas. My
> cooking styles are Persian, Arab, Indian, and Mediterranean (my persona is a
> traveller, and would certainly have wanted to try her hand at local
> cuisines, since among other things, her family trades in spices -- she'd
> want to know how the locals would be using them).
> Anyone got an idea of what to substitute for tomatoes in things like
> tabbouleh, Jerusalem salad (entirely made of cucumbers, tomatoes, and
> onions, plus oil and spices), or the various biryanis and other Indian
> cooking which heavily features tomatoes or tomato paste? Tomatoes make up
> such a big part of my modern diet that I'm having trouble figuring out how
> to do without them in my medieval life.
> Judith / no SCA name yet
> _______________________________________________
> Sca-cooks mailing list
> Sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org
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