[Sca-cooks] More al-Warraq
ddfr at daviddfriedman.com
Fri Aug 31 16:53:33 PDT 2012
Yesterday, for dinner, I made three different al-Warraq dishes. One
(actually two versions of one) was an expected failure--a cold bean
recipe which I suspect should be done with fresh favas. Not having any,
I used it with dried fava beans soaked overnight--the result was edible
but not tasty. I expect to try again when and if I see fresh favas for sale.
A second was a "crumbly cracker" which is supposed to crumble in the
mouth. It was tasty, but not all that crumbly. I expect to try the
recipe again, making it a good deal thinner and cooking it longer at a
lower temperature, on the theory that that might get the desired effect.
The third was a recipe for mutajjana, a vinegary chicken dish
Disjoint plumb pullets. Using a knife, cut open---from the inside---the
chest and the back all the way down to the tail to be able to flatten
the pieces. Wash them and put them in a pot. Pour about 1/3 ratl olive
oil, a similar amount of water, and 1 dirham (3 grams) salt. Let the pot
cook until all water evaporates.
Add to the pot, 1/3 ratl (2/3 c) vinegar. Stir it continuously until
meat is browned and vinegar is cooked. Pour in ¼ ratl (1/2 c) murri and
sprinkle 1 mithqal (4 ½ g) black pepper. Put the pot away from heat
Cooking it until all the water evaporates took nearly an hour an a half,
since the chicken itself gave up a good deal of liquid in the process.
And the final stage of cooking never got it brown, although the dish did
end up very tasty.
I thought perhaps I should have boiled more vigorously in the first
stage, so as not to get the chicken so thoroughly cooked--it ended up
pretty much falling off the bones, which may or may not be what was
intended. And for the final stage, the presence of the vinegar limits
how hot the oil--olive oil plus chicken fat--which it is cooking in can
get. I wonder if "vinegar is cooked" means boiled away--I find it hard
to believe that vinegar, even very concentrated after boiling, can have
a boiling point all that much above that of water.
Suggestions? "Browned" could, of course, be an imprecision in translation.
While on that subject, one very minor problem with the translation.
Nasrullah routinely translates "ratl" as pound and "uqiya" as ounce. But
there are 12 uqiya to the ratl, not 16--and modern readers will assume a
sixteen ounce pound.
I think I have about another fifty recipes to go, of the ones I have so
far noted as worth trying. We'll do some of them at a cooking workshop a
week from tomorrow.
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