And a third and final recipe inspired by this month’s Montengarde Culinary Group’s meeting.
While looking for a “light” recipe or one that made me think of warmer climates I decided on Andalusia. Southern Spain sounded warm to me and during the time period it would have been very exotic as well, being one of the main connecting points for Muslim Africa and Christian Europe.
This recipe was chosen mostly for my son who has decided that he loves pomegranates (pomegranate candy as he calls it).
Today’s recipe is from An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the 13th Century as translated by Charles Perry. The cookbook is originally known as Kitab al-Tabeekh fi ‘l-Maghrib wa ‘l-Andalus fi ‘Asr al-Muwahhidin or Cookbook of Al-Maghrib and Andalusia in the era of Almohads (Writing Food History: A Global Perspective)
Syrup of Pomegranates
Take a ratl of sour pomegranates and another of sweet pomegranates, and add their juice to two ratls of sugar, cook all this until it takes the consistency of syrup, and keep until needed. Its benefits: it is useful for fevers, and cuts the thirst, it benefits bilious fevers and lightens the body gently.
It’s a fairly straightforward recipe. A few points need to be added though.
Pomegranates come in a variety of types and have a broad sour/sweet spectrum. The ones available in the regular North American grocery store generally fall somewhere in the middle leaning slightly to the sweet side. But if you buy just the seeds (arils) they are generally right in the middle of the spectrum.
A ratl is about 12 ounces by weight or about a pint by volume. But that doesn’t matter too much because the amounts are all proportional.
There are a few ways of juicing a pomegranate. You can extract the seeds and crush them in a mortar or similar device then strain the liquid (probably the period way). You can cut the pomegranate open and juice it like a lemon. You can crush the pomegranate without opening it then cut a hole and drain the juice. Or the modern way is to seed the pomegranate then pulse them in a blender or food processor and strain the liquid. I opted for grinding them in a mortar then straining it as that was easier than expected.
Sugar is something I’ve been working on the research for (finishing that is one of my goals this year) but essentially the sugar they had access to is very similar to modern sugar except that the colour was just slightly yellowish. The production methods have changed but the final product has not.
Syrups in this cook book (as shown in several of the other recipes) were meant to be drank added to water in either a 2 parts syrup 3 parts (usually hot) water combination or a 1 part syrup 2 parts (either hot or cold) water combination.
- 12 oz pomegranate seeds
- 12 oz sugar
- Juice pomegranate seeds
- pour juice into sauce pan
- slowly heat up while stirring in sugar
- cook till syrup consistency
- serve 1 part syrup 2 parts water
Final note: this is super sweet I’d recommend mixing it with a lot more than two parts water.