Beef & lamb kabobs - contributed by Michael Hobbes

Original recipe from al-Baghdadi:

Isfanakhiya. Take fat meat and cut into medium sized pieces. Slice the fresh tail, dissolve, and remove the sediment. Put the meat into this oil and stir until browned; then cover with water that has been heated separately. Add a little sail: boil, and remove the scum. Throw in a handful of chickpeas that have been soaked and peeled. Take fresh spinach, wash, remove the lower roots and cut with a knife into fingers, then pound in a stone mortar, and put into the saucepan. When nearly cooked, add dry coriander, cumin, brayed pepper, mastic, small pieces of cinnamon-bark, and a little garlic bruised fine. Now fill with water as required, letting the water be lukewarm. Meanwhile prepare red meat minced fine and made into cabobs, and fry these in oil with the usual seasonings. When the concoction is ladled out, strew over it this fried meat, together with the oil as required, sprinkle with fine-ground cinnamon, and serve.

- Jung, Nizamat, trans. A Baghdad Cookery-Book by Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn al-Karim al-Katib al-Baghdadi as compiled by Dr. Daoud Chelebi. Mosul, 1923. Found in A Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Cookbooks as compiled by Duke Cariadoc of the Bow and Duchesa Diana Alena, Private Printing, 1991.

Modern recipe:

  • Four Pounds Boneless Beef
  • Four Pounds Boneless Lamb
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • ½ cup Garbanzos, finely chopped
  • Several Spinach Leaves
  • Coriander
  • Dry Cumin
  • Dry Mastic (if unavailable try mixing a little bay leaf with just a tiny pinch of asafoetida)
  • Cinnamon, bark
  • Garlic, clove
  • Rice Flour
  • ½ cup Yogurt 
Cut the meat up into small squares about ¾ inch in size. Lightly braise the meat in olive oil until done. Place on skewers and set to the side. Next lightly boil the garbanzos in a saucepan with the yogurt until done. Next grind the spinach in a mortar and then add it to the garbanzo mixture. On a low heat mix in the coriander, cumin, mastic, freshly scraped cinnamon, and freshly crushed garlic cloves. All spices are to taste. Thicken the mixture slightly with rice flour if necessary. Dip the kabobs in the yogurt mixture and then fry lightly in olive oil until done. For a variant, marinate the beef in the yogurt mixture overnight, and then skewer the meat and coat with the mixture again before frying.

Isfanakhiya is featured in Coronation Feast of H.R.H Kenna

Metric, Celsius, & Gas Mark Equivalencies

Michael Hobbes is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, living in Columbus, Ohio. He was recently awarded the Laurel, the SCA's highest honor for arts & sciences, for his work in cooking.

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Isfanakhiya © 1998 Michael Hobbes | This page © 2000 James L. Matterer

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