[Sca-cooks] Tharida questions (long)

David Friedman ddfr at daviddfriedman.com
Sun Nov 8 10:17:44 PST 2009

>I'm starting my recipe testing for my next feast and one of the dishes I
>want to serve is Tharida.
>I am looking specifically at the tharida with lamb and spinach, moist
>cheese and butter (pg 38), and the tharida of lamb with garbanzos, orach
>and cheese (pg 41).
>I am using the Martinelli edited translation available here:

That's actually Charles Perry's translation, which you can also find 
on my web page. She now says so, but she still has my (mundane) name 

>She states at the beginning of the section that couscous can be
>substituted for breadcrumbs in all of the tharida recipes, possibly
>because one of the tharida recipes (tharida mudhakkar, pg. 38) states
>that couscous can be substituted. I think this would substantially alter
>the texture of all of these dishes and question that addition. I have
>read the redacted tharida recipes in the Miscellany and by Urtatim, but
>both are different kinds of tharidas than the ones I am trying to

As far as I know, Martinelli has no expertise in medieval Islamic 
cooking. She's simply taken the Perry translation and added her own 
comments, reorganized, etc. Some of her comments are lifted from 
Perry's footnotes, but I don't think this one is, so I would ignore 

>More information on Tharidas:
>Modern tharida recipe, possibly "historically-inspired":
>My questions are:
>Do you feel that couscous as an interchangeable ingredient for
>breadcrumbs in tharidas is historically accurate?

No. To begin with, couscous is North African. Tharid, said to be the 
Prophet's favorite dish, isn't. It's possible that someone in North 
Africa or Spain making tharid would have made the substitution, but 
the implication of the tharida mudhakkar recipe is that the result 
isn't a tharid--that another thing you might do with the recipe is to 
use it with couscous.

I would ignore all comments by Martinelli. The Perry translation, 
with his footnotes, is webbed on my page at:


I gather Martinelli got a copy of that that somebody else had copied, 
presumably without credit--at least, she didn't know where it was 
from until I told her--from me.

>On reading the two tharida recipes specified above, what would you think
>is the texture of the final dish; soft like a savory bread pudding, dry
>like a steamed couscous dish, or something else entirely?

As best I can tell from looking at recipes,  tharid is basically 
stuff cooked in liquid, then poured over crumbled bread crumbs. So 
not at all like a bread pudding.

Note that there is a surviving recipe for bread to crumble for tharid.

Recipe for Folded Bread from Ifriqiyya
Andalusian p. A-59

Take coarsely ground good semolina and divide it into three parts. 
Leave one third aside and knead the other two well and it is made 
from it. Roll out thin bread and grease it. Sprinkle some of the 
remaining semolina on top and fold over it and roll it up. Then roll 
it out a second time and grease it, sprinkle some semolina on top and 
fold it over like muwarraqa (puff pastry). Do this several times 
until you use up the remaining third of the semolina. Then put it in 
the oven and leave it until it sets. Remove it when tender but not 
excessively so. If you want, cook the flatbreads at home in the 
tajine. Then crumble it and with the crumbs make a tharid like fatir, 
either with milk like tharid laban, which is eaten with butter and 
sugar, or with chicken or other meat broth, upon which you put fried 
meat and a lot of fat. Dust it with cinnamon and serve it.

Hope that helps.

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