WE present a recipe adapted from an Andalusian cookbook written in the 13th century. It is a small taste of meals in the past that shows the refinement of taste and the eye for detail that went into each recipe and its presentation. For instance, the anonymous author of the book prefaces the recipes with a discussion on whether food should be served with each kind on a separate dish or with everything on one platter:
“Many of the great figures and their companions order that the separate dishes be placed on each table before the diners, one after another; and by my life, this is more beautiful than putting an uneaten mound all on the table, and it is more elegant, better-bred, and modern.“
1/2 kg lamb or beef (boneless)
3/4 cup soaked chickpeas
3 small onions
1/2 green capsicum
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup green coriander
1/8 teaspoon pepper powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder or stick
Boil the meat in a little water, just enough to cover the meat until the water dries out, or the meat is almost done. Make sure to keep turning the sides, so that it does not burn.
Note: The original recipe calls for roasting the meat directly, but boiling the meat will help it roast better and get cooked thoroughly.
Take out the boiled meat, and sprinkle with salt all over. Lay it out on a baking tray and keep for roasting in the oven. Brush the tray with oil, to avoid burning. Roast till the meat is done and brown, and you can pass a knife inside it easily.
After the meat is roasted, cut it into smaller strips about ¼” x ½”.
Add oil to a cooking pot and heat it. Add spices and onions, followed by chickpeas. After a few minutes add 1/2 cup of water. Cook over moderate heat, until it’s just about to dry out. Keep stirring after few minutes.
Note: The original recipe has no water added in it, but it’s better to add water, so that the chickpeas can be cooked well.
Add the roasted meat, and cook for 3-4 minutes with the lid on it. Add salt to taste.
Cut the capsicum and fry for one minute. Add the coriander and cook. Turn off the heat.
Note: The original recipe has no capsicum. Adding capsicum brings more flavor to the dish.
Now sprinkle black pepper powder and cinnamon powder, stir and serve hot.