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Thursday, August 25, 2011


bread garum. This was a mixture of rotted barley dough or rotten unleavened bread, herbs, spices and salt tempered with water. It was used often as a coating for fowl, as a paste to add to oil when frying and like escabeche to preserve foods. According to Perry, 30% of the recipes in the Anon Andalus call for one or two teaspoons of murri or macerated murri added while cooking. Perry states that murri naqi was unique in Al-Andalus, see almorí macerado. All murris were consumed as medicinal food as they were thought to clean and warm the stomach, which aided digestion. Due to the rigorous restrictions of the Roman Catholic Church, Christians adopted murri readily for a pleasant change in cuisine. Murri descendants continue today. Up to the end of the 18th C. bread garums were made in the shape of a tablet. Grain based sauce products containing glutamate have led to innumerable wheat based mixtures today called “Cenovis” by the Swiss, “Marmite” by the English and bullion cubes. Translators of Arabic manuscripts currently recommend the use of nuoc-man, soy sauce or Worcester sauce to substitute murri in medieval recipes. See almorí de pescado, almorí macerado, budhaj, garum,  liguamen and salsugo. [Alonso, Martín. 1994:I:A:275; Anón/Huici. 1966:1:15:12:21:73:52-53 etc; Bolens. Cuisine. 1990:191-195; ES: Anon/Perry. Sep 5, 02; ES: Eigeland. Apr 26, 05; ES: Lagóstena. Sep 6, 07; ES: Lord. Culinary. Mar 4, ‘08; García Rey. 1934:140; and Gitlitz. 1999:19-20]

BYZANTINE MURRI RECIPE - David Friedman posted in murri-msg - 2/14/08. Stefan at florilegium.org, Oct 24, 97.  

Recipe adapted from: Kitab Wasf, Sina'ah 52, p.56, Sina'ah 51, p. 65: Charles Perry tr.

Byzantine Murri
Photo by: Lord-Williams

3 tbsp honey
2/3 tsp nigella (also called kalonji, black onion seed; substitute cumin)
1 1/2 oz quince
1 1/2 oz bread or 1/3 c breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp saffron
1/2 c salt in 3 tbsp honey (1-2 tbsp salt is recommended)
1 tbsp wheat starch
1/3 tsp celery seed (substitute: celery leaves, not celery salt, too salty)
1 pint water
2/3 tsp anise
1/4 oz carob (substitute: bitter chocolate in powder)
1 tbsp lemon (1/4 of one)
2/3 tsp fennel (substitutes: anise seed, cumin, caraway or dill)
1/4 oz walnut


Cook the honey in a small frying pan on medium heat, bringing it to a boil then turning off the heat and repeating several times; it will taste scorched. The bread is sliced white bread, toasted in a toaster to be somewhat blackened, then mashed in a mortar. Toast the anise, fennel and nigella in a frying pan or roast under a broiler, then grind in a mortar with celery seed and walnuts. The quince is quartered and cored. Boil all but the lemon together for about 2 hours, then put it in a potato rice, squeeze out the liquid and add lemon juice to it; this is the murri. The recipe generates about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 c of liquid.  You can then add another 1/2 c of water to the residue, simmer 1/2 hr -1 hr, and squeeze out that liquid for the second infusion, which yields about 1/3 c. A third infusion using 1/3 c yields another 1/4 c or so.

This author's comments are in parenthesis above.
Normally instructions are to keep in an air tight container. It does not freeze in the freezer but it seems to be the most logical place to store it as it will be called for in so many Hispano-Arab recipes.

See Almorí de Pescado and Almorí Macerado for other murri recipes.


  1. Great, I've been looking for information on almorí for a while and this post sums it all. Thanks!

  2. Many thanks Miriam. There are two more murri articles with recipes coming up: "almori de pescado" (fish murri) on Fri, 26 Aug & "almorí macerado" (mcearated murri).
    We we get to the 2G's" there is a short article on "Garam masala" and a long one on "Garum." Please stay tuned!

  3. You say at the beggining that almorí was made with "rotten" bread or barley dough: do you mean it was mouldy? How this produced the glutamate you mark as the caracteristic flavour?
    (nice tile in the bottom of the picture!)

  4. I do not understand what you mean by my marking glutamte as the characteristic flavor. Monosodium glutamate, also known as sodium glutamate is used as a food additive today but I did not note that flavor when I made the murri recipe above. My end result, Albornía, was definitely a sweet and sour dish.

  5. Almorí, the blog published on 29 Aug, includes a long recipe for macerated murri with barley flour left to rot. It is explained that the mold is scraped off twice a day during the drying process.
    I am interested in someone gong to Murcia to try to make it. - You should try it rather than putting up with the heat in Madrid!!!
    P.S: Barley is gluten free. Perhaps the Countess of Romanones would like to keep you company!

  6. Someone and I think it was you Madame Samper, commented on the tile in the background of the pitcher of murri naqçi, above. Yes, it is most appropriate being one of the first reproductions of Nasrid greeen and blue ceramics which began in the 1990's. The dynasty began in 1232 under Mohammed I ibn Nasr and lasted until January 2, 1492, when Muhammad XII surrendered to the Christian Spanish kingdoms of Aragon and Castile - Isabel and Ferdinand.

  7. Thank you, I have seen the recipe of the "Murcia" murri today. Respecting the glutamate, I thought it tasted somewhat like because of this phrase "Grain based sauce products containing glutamate have led to innumerable wheat based mixtures today called “Cenovis” by the Swiss, “Marmite” by the English and bullion cubes".
    I better find a good restaurant and try it. Any suggestion in Madrid? I let Murcia for the moment, even if Madrid could do as well (we've been near 40ºC many days, and above all,I am a simple plebeian and I don't know the Countess of Romanones!!