[Sca-cooks] Trdelnik query

lilinah at earthlink.net lilinah at earthlink.net
Thu May 31 15:57:57 PDT 2012

OK, i dragged the massive Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq to the cafe so i could enter this for youse guys and guyettes. I think i removed all the special characters...

>From Chapter 103 - Making Decoration and Ornamentations for Desserts

(p. 425 of Nasrallah's translation)
A recipe for halaqim (1) used for decorating desserts

Take as much as you like of dough made of pure fine samidh flour (high in starch and bran free). Rub it very well with olive or sesame oil.

Prepare some yard-long reeds (qasab), scrape their outer layers and clean them. Wrap the prepared dough around them(2), cut them into finger-long pieces, and make decorative impressions on them with pincers (minqash). Then color them red, yellow, green, and blue, using the dyes mentioned at the beginning of the book, where it is explained how to produce them [Chapter 3].

(1. The literal meaning of halaqim (sing. hulqum) is 'windpipe'.)
(2. Al-Warraq does not give details on how to wrap (laffa) the dough around the reeds. A recipe on similar cookies, called qananit (tubes), in the anonymous thirteenth-century Andalusian cookbook Anwa' al-Saydala mentions that the dough is flattened into thin sheets, then would around the reeds (217))
[Urtatim sez: according to Nasrallah, "Anwa' al-Saydala fi Alwan al-At'ima" is the actual title of the book we are all familiar with on Duke Cariadoc's website as the anonymous Andalusian cookbook, translated from the Arabic by Charles Perry]

Put the finished reeds in the tannur. When baked, remove the reeds, which will leave you with [pastry] tubes (anabib mujawwafa). Fill them with a mixture of pounded walnuts and sugar. (138v) Dip both ends of the reeds [Urtatim sez: that is, the pastry tubes] in thick and sticky sugar syrup. Sprinkle the ends with chips of Sulaymani sugar (hard sugar-candy) colored with the dyes mentioned aove. They will look like a vivid orchard, Gold willing.

Urtatim sez:
The colors in ch. 3 (p. 93) include blue made from lapis lazuli (NOT food safe) or from indigo (may be food safe, i'm not certain), red from mercury-containing vermillion (NOT food safe), yellow from saffron (food safe). Green is either from a mix of lapis lazuli and saffron (NOT food safe) or from chard juice (food safe), to obtain pistachio green or chard green. There is also mention of a white made from lead-containing ceruse (NOT food safe).

It also says that to obtain sky blue, mix ceruse with lapis lazuli or indigo with ceruse (both NOT food safe). To obtain anemic red (ahmar faqir), i.e., pink [Urtatim sez: i just love that description], use the juice of bustan abrawiz [Urtatim sez: Nasrallah says it's houseleek, but my research indicated several other possible plants - scholars aren't united in their interpretation] or gum lac. To obtain deep yellow [Urtatim sez: i.e., orange], mix saffron with gum lac or juice of bustan abrawiz.

Lac, or at least some lac reds (e.g., cochineal), are food safe, since they are still used today in toothpastes, beverages, etc.

Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

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