[Sca-cooks] Persian polaw and Special Characters, was Sesame Oil in 16th Century Ottoman Turkey

lilinah at earthlink.net lilinah at earthlink.net
Sat Aug 14 13:43:08 PDT 2010

I wrote:
>At the moment i am working on translating some 16th c. Persian recipes
>from German into English (since i do not yet read 16th c. Persian). The
>article was a pdf (mentioned here by Emilio) and i copied it into a text
>program; it lost or confused various letters (esp. those with umlauts
>and macrons), so i have had to compare the two texts side by side and
>correct and amend and that takes a while.

Guillaume replied:
>Most word processing apps should have no problem with handling the
>different characters. Notepad might, if you save it as ASCII rather than
>Unicode. If I can be of help with this, please contact me off-list.

Thank you for your kind offer.

No problem working on it from this point. Stuff only got lost and 
confused in the transfer from PDF to text.

For example, -kerne (in relation to pomegranate, almond, and 
pistachio) got turned into -kene; sometimes -rn got turned into -m; 
a-umlaut sometimes stayed the same, sometimes turned into plain a, 
sometimes it turned into an i; o umlaut sometimes became a 6, 
sometimes an i; esszet turned into B or S; etc.

My text program is handling the proper stuff now, but i have had to 
check for weirdnesses caused by the transfer. The transfer also 
dropped special characters like i without a dot (for Turkish stuff), 
c-hachek, s-hachek, g-breve, & vowels both lower case and capitals 
with macrons, and some other characters, which i have had to correct 
by pasting them in. That part is done now.

There are 57 polo/polaw/pilau/pilaf/plov recipes (from two books, i 
think, i have mostly just been skimming for a first VERY rough 
translation, so i am not clear if the recipes are from one Safavid 
cookbook or both of them). Most recipes are pretty vague, and quite a 
few merely say to cook just like another specified recipe, the 
primary difference being the ingredient in the title, for example, 
dates vs. barberries; or pomegranate seeds vs. mulberries vs. 
cornelians. However, other than gipa, a sort of 16th c. Persian 
haggis, which i am not really excited about making, many sound well 
worth experimenting with.

Gipa polaw involves a sheep's rumen, some other parts that i am not 
quite clear on - such as mesentery:
(not sure what American butchers call it, if they call it anything... 
anyone know?)
- (and intestines, it seems) stuffed, carefully so they don't burst, 
and sewn shut. The stuffing is composed of: 2 measures of shredded 
meat, 1 measure of sheep tail fat, half a measure of rice, 2 measures 
of chopped onions (fried in fat before including), and herbs and 
spices (some specified, some not), cooked together before being 
stuffed into the guts. Then sheep's ribs are placed in the bottom of 
the kettle (this is optional and the author claims this is his 
special idea), and just enough, but not too much, water. Then the 
stuffed rumen and other guts are placed on them; fat and broth are 
drizzled in; and the whole bunch are simmered on a very low fire for 
about 12 hours, carefully so nothing burns. Then thin flat bread is 
placed on top. How it is served, however, is not described. I don't 
know if it is sliced and eaten, or if only the stuffing is eaten. The 
stuffing sounds pretty good...

Yes, i pretty much fully translated this recipe :) although the above 
is not the translation, just a paraphrase. I did this one because 
among the modern Turkish Turks these sorts of dishes, which used to 
be common, have largely been lost from the cuisine, and i was curious 
how similar this Persian one might be. (this is the recipe that has 
"weitergart" in it) Fragner says that gipa have disappeared from 20th 
c. cookbooks "with one exception. Only Forough Hekmat (The Art of 
Persian Cooking, Tehran, 1961, p. 82 f.) describes two gipa recipes."

The German scholar, Bert Fragner, who translated these from 16th c. 
Persian, mentions that at least half of the recipes from the 16th c. 
cookbooks have disappeared by the 19th c. when more Persian cookbooks 
start appearing... the first published Persian cookbook in Persia was 
published in 1890, although earlier cookbooks were written in Persian 
in India, but probably are more reflective of Mughal/Moghul cuisine, 
which has strong Persian influence.

And i am very excited because Fragner mentions the source of the 
Zerde recipe i used for my Ottoman feast, which came from an early 
17th c. Mughal manuscript written in Persian. The author of the 
translation i used was rather vague; she translated only some of its 
recipes, and never said where the original manuscript came from. Now 
i know.

Anyway, more later, as i get stuff (and stuffing :) translated.
Urtatim [that's err-tah-TEEM]
the persona formerly known as Anahita

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