Tuesday, July 08, 2014

An Arabian Nights Dish.

I am much intrigued by one particular exotic recipe in A New System of Domestic Cookery (1844) by Maria Rundell.  She begins the recipe with a short mention of its supposed origins:

Dumpokht.- E.R. – (The dish mentioned in the Arabian Nights as the Kid stuffed with Pistachio Nuts.

I have been meaning for some time to research the specific mention in 1001 Arabian Nights stories in which this dish is mentioned, but the amount of time to do a thorough search is more than a little intimidating at present, and I eagerly await some advice from the Arabian Nights scholars amongst you. I have so far found mention of one related dish (of duck) in Richard Burton’s nineteenth century translation of the 1001 Arabian Nights. It is the story called Nur Al-Din Ali Of Damascus and the Damsel Sitt Al-Milah. The dialogue goes thus:

Accordingly he went away and she slept and rested herself. When she awoke, she asked the old man, "O Shaykh, hast thou aught of food?" and he answered, "O my lady, I have bread and olives."Quoth she, "That be food which befitteth only the like of thee. As for me, I will have naught save roast lamb and soups and reddened fowls right fat and ducks farcis with all manner stuffing of pistachio-nuts and sugar."

The Dictionary, Hindustani and English (London, 1858) defines dam-pukht as ‘a stew, a kind of pulaw.’  Here is Mrs.Rundell’s recipe:

Dumpokht.- E.R. – (The dish mentioned in the Arabian Nights as the Kid stuffed with Pistachio Nuts.- Clean and truss a fowl or rabbit, as for roasting; then stuff it with sultana raisins, pistachio nuts and boiled rice, -in equal parts. Rub fine an ounce of coriander-seed, freed from the husks, four onions, a dozen peppercorns, six cloves, and a teaspoonful of pounded ginger. Set twelve ounces of butter in a stewpan over the fire; rub the pounded ingredients over the fowl or rabbit, and let it fry until perfectly well browned and tender. Boil in a quart of white broth twelve ounces of rice, two ounces of sultana raisins, two ounces of pistachio nuts, and two of almonds, the two latter blanched, and cut into thin slices. When the rice is nearly tender, strain off the broth, and add the rice to the fried fowl; stir the whole well, that the butter may completely saturate the rice, and keep it near the fire to swell till wanted. In serving surround the fowl with the rice. Observe that, in pounding the onions, the juice only is used with the spices, or they must be rubbed and pounded so finely as not to be perceptible. Chestnuts may be substituted for pistachio nuts.


Anonymous said...

am also in Bristol and have extensive collection of cookery books old and a few newer... thinking of exploring for specific dishes like the carpetbagger steak or the goat stuffed with pistachio... could be fun to hunt together over a glass or two when you are next here - you can find me on Fb - best wishes Prue Hardwick

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Prue! Glad to meet you. I had a fine time in Bristol, it is a lovely city. I will look you up next time I visit!