Ar. mufalfal, Eng. rice pilaf, a method of cooking rice after careful washing, boiling and finally steaming to insure that no grains stick to each other. This has been translated incorrectly from Arabic as “peppered rice” but pepper was never included as an ingredient in medieval recipes for it. Perhaps it was named for the rice grains as they look like peppercorns. Perry describes a dish of Rizz Mufalfal consisting of a large quantity of rice and boiled meat. Chickpeas maybe added and after straining off the water, melted fat is then mixed into the concoction. Pullar points out that rice pilaf is a prime example refuting the myth that food was over spiced in the Middle Ages. [Perry.“Kitāb.” 2001:472; and Pullar. 1970:242]
RIZZ MUTALFAL - RICE PILAF, ADAPTED FROM THE 15TH C KITĀB AL-ṬIBĀKHA, “THE BOOK OF THE FEMALE COOK” FROM DAMASCUS
Photo by: cookbookman17
For 4 persons
1 c long grain rice
1 lb lamb or beef cut in cubes
4 tbsp samneh, butter or shortening
1 garlic clove crushed
1 tsp salt
If rice is purchased in bulk from an Arab market, soak in hot water ½ hr. Rinse thoroughly to remove surface starch which will make finished pilaf gummy. If packaged rice it is normally prewashed.
Melt 2 tbsp samneh in a heavy frying pan. Stir garlic into the samneh. Add the rice and stir fry on high heat. Add the meat and brown.
When all the rice grains are covered with samneh and the meat is browned, add 2 c the water and salt. Bring this to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cook about 15 minutes until water is absorbed. It may be necessary to add ¼ c more water.
Remove from heat and cover for about 20 minutes letting rice finish cooking in its own steam. Melt the remaining samneh and pour over the rice mixture. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.