A tentative foray into period Islamic cooking
What started off as an idle impulse to make the marinade described in ‘Meat Roasted Over Coals’ from Cariadoc’s Miscellany, turned into quite an involved affair once I realised that one of the main ingredients, murri, was not a simple spice to be tossed in with the rest. It is a complex seasoning that took me the better part of three hours to make. My whingeing aside, it was very tasty and the end result made for one of the most delicious braai marinades Guntram and I had nommed in a while. So let me share with you my making of murri.
3 T honey
1/3 cup toasted breadcrumbs
2/3 t anise
2/3 t fennel
2/3 t nigella (black onion seed)
1/3 t celery
1 T carob (had to leave this out, would coco powder be an appropriate substitute?)
1 quince (I substituted with a small granny smith apple, peeled, quartered and cored)
1/3 c salt dissolved in 3 T honey (I took this down from ½ cup salt)
1 T wheat starch (I used Maizena) dissolved in 480ml water
Juice of half a lemon.
Bring the 3 T honey to boil gently in a small saucepan over medium heat. Turn off heat once boiling, allow to cool a bit and then bring to the boil again. Repeat process several times until the honey tastes scorched (the honey was a very dark caramel colour by the time it smelled right to me). Toast some white bread until somewhat blackened and then mash in a mortar, or, if you’re strapped for time as I was that day, break the toast into pieces and crumb in the nut grinding attachment of your blender. Toast the anise, fennel and nigella in a frying pan, then grind in a mortar with the celery seeds and walnuts. Peel, quarter and core the apple. Dissolve the Maizena in the water and the 1/3 cup salt in another 3 T honey. Toss all the ingredients except for the lemon juice into the pot with the scorched honey, pop on the lid and boil on low heat. I let it go until the apple was mush, which was pretty much 2 hours. Now for the tedious part…Take the aromatic gloop from the pot and strain through a sieve, add the lemon juice to the strained liquid; this is murri! For larger quantities I intend to stick blend/ process the mush rather than strain myself. Pun intended.
These quantities yielded a bit over 1 c liquid. And now onto the actual marinade! Which is pretty quick and easy now once you have murri on hand.
Meat Roasted Over Coals
1kg Meat – we chose lamb chops, but should work with kebabs, chicken pieces, steaks
¼ c murri (I used a bit more, like 1/3 c)
¼ c vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
½ t salt
1 t coriander seeds
½ t thyme
½ t black pepper
Mix all the ingredients together except for the meat. Place the meat in the marinade and refrigerate for +-3 hours. Put on a spit or skewer (or in our civilized case, braai grid) and roast over coals, basting two or three times with the marinade; this is meat roasted over coals. Aromatic, exotic, deliciously sweet-salty. As with Mairi Jean’s nommy little comfits, most definitely a success.