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Monday, July 20, 2015

JUBZ AL-MALLA, BREAD FOR NOMADS

Cooking Bread
Photo from: World of Tim
al-jubz al-malil, al mamlul malla, (jubz, bread in general regardless of the grain used; al-malla, hot ashes used to bury bread for baking; and malla, pit in which bread is cooked; with time it came to mean oven as well), fire pit as that used in Al-Andalus for baking bread under hot embers and ashes. Today’s version is about 5’ deep and lined with stones.

It is known that this is a flat bread which has been considered to be the worst as it is heavy and difficult to digest. García Sánchez maintains that only those with strong stomachs can eat it.  Once the bread cooled it was thick and hard, not spongy.

Rolling out the Dough
Photo by: Lord-Williams
It was considered to be peasants’ bread. It was the basis of their alimentation. No specific recipes for this bread are available in the texts reviewed but it seems that any flat bread recipe would do. Most breads in Al-Andalus were made with wheat except in times of shortages.

"World of Tim "states: "Our Berber Camel drivers (or 'drive camels' as our guide referred to them) cooking flat breads in the hot ashes of a fire. A hole is dug in the ashes; the dough is dropped in and then covered with more ashes and left for about 20 minutes. The results were very tasty."[1]



[ES: García Sánchez, Alimentación. 1983;140:150;  Benavides-Barajas. Nueva-Clásica. 1995:36; and ES: Flickr. "World of Tim." Apr 30, 15]

BREAD IN THE MIDDLE AGES ADAPTED FROM MEDIEVALLISTS.NETS[2]


Ingredients

Fresh from the Oven
Photo by: Lord-Williams
3 ½ lbs samidh flour[3]

1 ½ oz yeast
1 ½ oz salt
about 2 c water
sesame seeds (optional)[4]

1 tbsp sesame oil or olive oil

Preparation

Mix the first four ingredients. Knead well. Roll the dough into a ball cover with a cloth and let raise in a dark cool spot.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 410ºF/220ºC

Roll out the dough like pita bread on a floured surface. Cut circles.

Put the oil in a cut. Take a paintbrush and paint a cookie sheet with the oil. Sprinkle it with flour and place the pieces of dough on this.

Bake for about 20 minutes, depending on oven and thickness of the bread.

Remove from oven and consume warm.



[1] The Medieval Spanish Chef's father cooked corn on the cob in husks under the ashes. He lit the fire in a stone outdoor fireplace at 1500 hours or earlier and spent the next four hours removing the ashes from the logs with a metal rake. By 1900 hours he had enough ashes to burn the corn. Each husk took 20 minutes to cook. It was a thankless operation in the heat of the summer.
[2] Quantities were reduced in half. Five breads were made and the rest of the dough was frozen.
[3] See As there is no clear translation of “samidh flour.” An approximation was made using 1 ½ lbs all purpose flour and 2 lbs bread flour.
[4] The Medieval Spanish Chef’s Addition. 

Bread in the Middle Ages
BY
– JULY 4, 2013POSTED IN: 

Nabatean water bread (Khubz al-ma’ al-Nabati’)



Take 1 makkuk (7 1/2 pounds) good quality samidh flour and sift it in a big wooden bowl. Mix with it 3 uqiyyas (3 ounces) yeast, and add 30 dirhams (3 ounces) salt that has been dissolved in water and strained.
Knead the mixture into very firm dough, as firm as stone and press it well. Continue pressing it while rubbing the bottom of the dough 120 times with water in doses of 4 dirhams (1 tablespoon) each until it develops a consistency which is a little firmer than that of the zalabiya dough (about the same as pancake batter). Cover the dough and let it ferment. With the help of some oil of hulled sesame seeds divide dough into portions and shape them like firani (round and domed thick bread).
Light the tannur and wait until the fire starts to smolder gently. Wipe clean the inside of the oven [with a piece of cloth]. Rub each portion of the dough with 2 dirhams (1 teaspoon) sesame oil or zayt anfaq (olive oil extracted from unripe olives) then flatten it by hand and stick it the inside of the smoldering oven. This recipe will make 15 pieces of bread.
When you are done sticking all the portions in the tannur, cover it with its lids for a short while. As soon as the breads are set, sprinkle them lightly with water, about 1/2 kuz (1/2 cup), and return the lid as it was before. Wait for a short while, then remove the cover, and open up the bottom went hole to expose the breads to more heat. As son as they brown, take them out. Scrape their backs with a knife and wipe them with a small amount of water. Stack the breads, enclose them in a damp piece of cloth, and set them aside for an hour or so.
Serve this bread whenever you need it, it will be the best, God willing.

Nabatean water bread (Khubz al-ma’ al-Nabati’)
Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq was commissioned to write a cookbook on the dishes and foods eaten by the Caliphs, nobles and people of Baghdad in the 10th century (probably around the 940s). Among the 600 recipes he details is several the deal with bread. Here is one that makes a specific type of flat bread:
Take 1 makkuk (7 1/2 pounds) good quality samidh flour and sift it in a big wooden bowl. Mix with it 3 uqiyyas (3 ounces) yeast, and add 30 dirhams (3 ounces) salt that has been dissolved in water and strained.
Knead the mixture into very firm dough, as firm as stone and press it well. Continue pressing it while rubbing the bottom of the dough 120 times with water in doses of 4 dirhams (1 tablespoon) each until it develops a consistency which is a little firmer than that of the zalabiya dough (about the same as pancake batter). Cover the dough and let it ferment. With the help of some oil of hulled sesame seeds divide dough into portions and shape them like firani (round and domed thick bread).
Light the tannur and wait until the fire starts to smolder gently. Wipe clean the inside of the oven [with a piece of cloth]. Rub each portion of the dough with 2 dirhams (1 teaspoon) sesame oil or zayt anfaq (olive oil extracted from unripe olives) then flatten it by hand and stick it the inside of the smoldering oven. This recipe will make 15 pieces of bread.
When you are done sticking all the portions in the tannur, cover it with its lids for a short while. As soon as the breads are set, sprinkle them lightly with water, about 1/2 kuz (1/2 cup), and return the lid as it was before. Wait for a short while, then remove the cover, and open up the bottom went hole to expose the breads to more heat. As son as they brown, take them out. Scrape their backs with a knife and wipe them with a small amount of water. Stack the breads, enclose them in a damp piece of cloth, and set them aside for an hour or so.
Serve this bread whenever you need it, it will be the best, God willing.

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