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Medieval Hummus

taste-test, woodcut
This Saturday I went to the St. Anne's costume symposium. I had heard that there would be a potluck, so I made some medieval hummus.

Medieval Hummus
from Medieval Arab Cookery page 383, this section (The Description of Familiar Foods) translated by Charles Perry

Period recipe:
HUMMUS KASA ['chickpea blanket'; kasa is the name of a coarse woolen fabric]. Take chickpeas and pound them fine after boiling them. Then take vinegar, oil, tahineh, pepper, atraf tib, mint, parsley, the refuse of dry thyme, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, Ceylon cinnmon, toasted caraway, dry coriander, salt, salted lemons and olives. Stir it and roll it out flat and leave it overnight and take it up.

My redaction:

1 cup finely ground nuts*
2 cans chickpeas (15 oz and 19 oz), drained and rinsed well
1/2 tsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
5 tsp olive oil* or more as needed
5 tsp Tahini (sesame seed paste)
Dash fresh ground black pepper (several grindings)
~1/4 cup fresh curly parsley leaves, snipped
1/8 tsp dried mint leaves, shredded
1/8 tsp caraway seeds, ground
1/2 tsp ground coriander
~2 tsp salt (start with 1 and add to taste)

Put all together in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add more olive oil or salt to taste. Let sit at least a day or two so the flavors can meld.

*Note: May need more or less olive oil when using ground nuts.


Comments and Lessons Learned:

When I first tasted this it was SOUR. It really needs to age for a couple days; just overnight probably won't be long enough. That said, I don't think reducing the vinegar or lemon juice is really necessary unless trying to serve it immediately. For vinegar, I'm not sure what the most period vinegar would be, but I chose apple cider vinegar as it was on hand and flavorful.

Also, my first batch was much too salty (this has been corrected in the above recipe). This was entirely my own fault from doing this in a hurry (I had to be up at 4:30 the next morning and it was already 10:00 at night). I'd had an accident a while back where my salt box lost its pouring spout, and I was a doofus and using it anyway. Yeah, and pouring into measuring spoon over the food processor and trying not to spill and mess up the countertop. D'oh! Of course, it decided to gush. The above recipe has been corrected. My office-mate likes it, but she's a self-admitted salt-a-holic.

*My first try omitted the nuts and added more olive oil as partial compensation. I thought that appropriate since at a pot-luck people with nut allergies might not expect nuts in their hummus. I would definitely include them if I ever entered this in an A&S contest though, since it would have space for an ingredient list. I expect having the ground nut meat would make it more fatty and pleasing to the palate, and maybe give it a more solid texture. Fat is a good thing. Due to the way this spread loves to soak up olive oil, it's hard to put in too much.

After sitting in a cooler/fridge for three days, the flavor magically melded and became yummy. Not sour!


Apparently the St. Anne's potluck was limited to the guild members only. That turned out to be a good thing, since aging a couple days improved the flavor tremendously. Co-workers liked it too.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
chargirlgenius
Apr. 30th, 2007 11:01 pm (UTC)
Membership in St. Anne's guild is "show up"! If you're there, you're a member.
silk_noir
Jul. 6th, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC)
Huh!

I found this as I'm trying to get together medieval sourcves, etc., for a period hummus for the Calontir TriLevels.

Duke Cariadoc has said that he can't find a period recipe for hummus bi tahini using chickpeas. How did he miss this?
(Anonymous)
May. 16th, 2009 06:17 pm (UTC)
How did I miss this?
1. The point at which I was searching for a medieval hummus recipe was almost certainly before _Medieval Arab Cookery_ was published. The source is an expanded version of al-Baghdadi, and this is one of the added recipes.

2. I don't think it is a hummus recipe in our sense, despite having chickpeas and tahini as ingredients. The recipe contains no suggestion that it's a dip. The name means "chickpea blanket," and the instructions tell you to "roll it out flat and leave overnight and take up." That sounds as though it's some sort of flat, possibly dried, food.

But I haven't tried making it yet--it was your comment that drew my attention to it. I may try it today.

Cariadoc
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )