Kafuriyya Tharida: Learn the recipe of 13th century Andalusian delicacy

Food Tamalika Basu
Kafuriyya Tharida
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Al Andalus is one of the most interesting geographic areas in the world. This place during medieval times was an area of the Iberian Peninsula. The term is used by modern historians for the former Islamic states based in modern Portugal and Spain. Between the 8th and the 14th century, even extending into the late 15th century, Al Andalus saw the golden age of Islamic culture in all fields.

Our particular interest in this piece and in a few future columns would be to learn some of the typical Andalusian delicacies which were deeply influenced by Islamic culinary culture. Andalusian cuisine, although a medieval affair, continues to be cooked in households across that region of Spain which are known as Andalusia.

I shall present recipes of these fabulous dishes from a very authentic source: An authentic anonymously written cookbook. It was written in Arabic, sometime in the 14th century. Although it compiles recipes of the Almohad Caliphate that included Al Andalus in the 12th and the 13th centuries. The name of the book is Kitab al tabikh fi-l-Maghrib wa-l-Andalus fi `asr al-Muwahhidin, li-mu’allif majhul.

In English, The Book of Cooking in Maghreb and Andalus in the era of Almohads. I have spoken at length about this book in a previous column. So rather than dwelling further on the history of the book, let me present a wonderful recipe from Kitab al-Tabikh, which on most occasions doesn’t give specific measurements of ingredients. So you will have to use your taste and experience. Here I have used my measurements, per my cooking experience.

Kafuriyya Tharida

Tharîda is a dish of bread moistened with juices of various kinds of meat. But they can also be made by using milk and syrups for sweet puddings. This particular type of Tharida is called Kafuriyya because it uses camphor. Kafuryyia is the Arabic for camphor and it provides meat-based Tharidas a very special flavor.

Kafuriyya tharîda is made with mutton or with chicken. It also takes quite a bit of clarified butter, which in the Indian subcontinent is called Ghee.

Take 1 Kg. young fat meat of mutton. Make pieces, medium-sized. Put 150 ml. of oil, mild clarified, or fresh butter in a pan. Let it heat. Now, put the meat in a pot with salt to taste, 20 Gms of black pepper, 15 Gms. of ground coriander seed. When it is fried well. Take 500 Gm. of onion, ground them and extract the juice by passing it through a piece of clean cloth. Let it boil. If required small quantities of water, until the meat is soft.

Once the meat is done, take 3 cups of bread crumbs, which may be substituted with semolina, and use the liquid of the Tharida, keeping the meat pieces apart, to cook it. It should be moist, but firm. Boil six chicken eggs. Peel and chop the egg white, throwing away the yolk.

Make a bed of the cooked breadcrumbs or semolina. Spread the chopped egg whites evenly on it. And right on top spread the pieces.

Your authentic 13th-century dish is ready. Serve hot