[Sca-cooks] Hummus, was Period substitute for tomatoes?
lilinah at earthlink.net
lilinah at earthlink.net
Tue Aug 25 14:08:07 PDT 2009
On Aug 23, 2009, at 11:30 PM, David Friedman wrote:
>> Hummus should be nice and period and requires no cooking.
> Assuming you mean hummus bi tahini, I don't know of any period
> recipes for it. There's an Islamic recipe in the expanded version of
> al-Baghdadi that has hummus and tahini in it, but if you try to make
> it it's pretty clear that it isn't the familiar dip. And there's a
> white salsa that I'm told tastes rather like hummus bi tahini, but I
> haven't actually tried it.
Judith Epstein <judith at ipstenu.org> replied
>Right. The ingredients are Period, so the dish is Period-plausible,
>but not documented. (Then again, how much documentation do we have for
>other things that are way more complicated? Bread would've been hard
>to come up with, originally, but it's as old as... well, beer,
>actually. Hummous is chickpeas, sesame seeds, olive oil, and lemon
>juice; all other ingredients are just variations on the theme.
Actually, hummus means "chick peas".
What you mean, as Cariadoc notes, is hummus bi-tahina. Most of the
hummus bi-tahina i'm familiar with does not involve olive oil except
perhaps as a drizzle on top, but not as an essential part of the
puree. Real Middle Eastern style tahini is oily enough.
I've had the misfortune to buy cosmically groovy, organic, grown by
peace-and-love hippies tahini and it was too dense and a bit bitter.
Let me note that i frequently am happy with the cosmically groovy,
organic, grown by peace-and-love hippies foods i buy. But i
definitely prefer Middle Eastern tahini.
There's an actual period recipe for chickpea puree that's easy to
make and involves olive oil,lemons, and spices.
>hard to believe that no one put those things together before the end
>of Period. They just probably didn't write it down, because why write
>something down that's so simple? But... no, not *provably* Period.)
Well, it may *seem* like they must have made it, but the earliest
evidence for hummus bi-tahina is 18th century. There are many
possible combinations of ingredients that never were, and we
currently have available to us in the US such a vast range of
ingredients from all over the world, but we don't commonly combine
them. So just 'cuz they had certain ingredients does NOT suggest that
they went ahead and combined them.
If you want plausibly period food, i highly recommend looking in some
actual period cookbooks.
Just removing modern ingredients from modern recipes does not make
plausibly period dishes.
For example, in modern Turkish cuisine are many dishes with the same
names as Ottoman dishes from the 15th and 16th centuries. In
comparing recipes sometimes the only ingredient they have in common
is salt. Cuisines evolve and change. Over the centuries changes are
made incrementally - or sometimes suddenly if an ingredient become
unavailable because of war or drought or crop failure. So a recipe
can change little by little from, oh, say, the 9th century to the
21st century, and the modern recipe is totally unlike the SCA-period
So here's a period recipe for hummus puree:
Ginger Spiced Chickpea Puree
Kanz al-Fawa'id fi Tanwi' al-Mawa'id
(The Treasure-Trove of Delicious Things for the Diversification of
the Table's Dishes)
Mamluk Egypt - between 1250 - 1517, probably 14th c.
Cook the chickpeas in water, then mash them in a mortar to make a
puree. Push the puree through a sieve for wheat, unless it is already
fine enough, in which case this step is not necessary. Mix it then
with wine vinegar, the pulp of pickled lemons, and cinnamon, pepper,
ginger, parsley of the best quality, mint, and rue that have all been
chopped and placed on the surface of a serving dish [zubdiyya].
Finally pour over a generous amount of oil of good quality
----- translated by Lilia Zaouali, "Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic
World: A Concise History with 174 recipes", p. 65, University of
California Press, 2007
one 1-lb can chickpeas
1/4 c. white or red wine vinegar [see Note 1]
the pulp of 2 Moroccan salted lemons (or to taste - you may prefer less)
[see Note 2 for substitution]
1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
[naturally adjust spices to taste]
3 Tb. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 Tb. finely chopped mint
1/4 cup high quality extra-virgin olive oil or cold-pressed sesame
oil (i used a bit more)
additional high quality extra-virgin olive oil or sesame oil for garnish
[do NOT use dark roasted sesame oil - that's Far East Asian]
1. Drain canned chickpeas well.
2. Remove skins by hand: gently rub a handful of chickpeas between
your hands and discard the skins. You don't have to be perfectionist
- a few getting through is OK.
3. Puree the skinned chickpeas.
4. Mix puree with wine vinegar, the pulp of salted lemons, and the
cinnamon, pepper, ginger. Adjust flavor. Note that flavor will
develop if this is allowed to sit for a while and not eaten
5. To serve, reserve some of chopped parsley and mint, then sprinkle
most of chopped herbs over the surface of the serving dish [zubdiyya].
6. Put puree in center.
7. Sprinkle with the reserved herbs
8. Top with a generous amount of oil - really green extra-virgin
olive oil will look and taste very nice - and high quality
cold-pressed golden sesame oil will taste lovely as well.
Note 1: a blend of white wine or champagne and sherry vinegar would
taste nice, although sherry vinegar would not be historically
accurate for this recipe.
Note 2: If you didn't make your own salted lemons, here's a substitute:
Wash well, then quarter (preferably organic) lemons. Put lemons in a
small sauce pan and cover with much *non-iodized* salt and just
enough lemon juice or water to start dissolving the salt - more juice
will come out of the lemons as they cook. Simmer, stirring
occasionally, until the lemon peels are just translucent. If this is
too dry add a bit more lemon juice or water - this should NOT burn or
even caramelize at all.
How this Hummus was eaten was not specified.
Since modern pita is not much like period bread, i served it as a
"dip" with lavash which is VERY like period ruqaq, and with some
modern Persian and Afghan breads. Yes, these are not necessarily like
period breads, but they seem quite close, after reading the vast
number of bread recipes in ibn Sayyar's 10th c. compendium. Plus they
are a pleasant change from the same-old same-old boring dull pita.
There's a lot more to the Near and Middle Eastern bakers' repertoire
Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita
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