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Medieval Recipe Translations

To make Nowmbyls of Muskyls

PERIOD: England, 15th century | SOURCE: MS Harley 5401 | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: Shellfish in an almond milk sauce


To make Nowmbyls of Muskyls. Seth muskyls, & then shop þam grete & medil þam with almonde mylk, & make a thyk potage; & colour it with saferon. With kokyls or with pervinches ye may do þe same.

- Hieatt, Constance B. "The Middle English Culinary Recipes in MS Harley 5401: An Edition and Commentary." Medium Ævum vol. 65, no. 1 (1996): 54-71.


To make umbles of mussels. Boil mussels, & then chop them great & mix them with almond milk, & make a thick pottage; & color it with saffron. With cockles or periwinkles you may do the same.


  • mussels, cockles, or periwinkles
  • Almond Milk
  • pinch saffron (or substitute with a pinch of turmeric or a few drops of yellow food coloring)

Boil or steam the shellfish until done; drain. Chop into large pieces. Make a thick Almond Milk, color it with the spice or food coloring, and add the shellfish. This is meant to be a pottage, a thick soup or a thick blended dish. The final result therefore can be either like a thick soup - similar to today's shellfish cream soups - or like a stiff, chunky meat sauce. The choice is yours.

Nowmbyls (also frequently spelled in medieval recipes as nombles) are umbles, the viscera or offal of an animal; the word nombles was often used as a name for any dish primarily featuring this ingredient. In this recipe, shellfish, not animal viscera, is used; however, the resemblance to the real thing would be very close, making this a sort of "mock" nombles.


A Boke of Gode CookeryMedieval Recipe Translations

To make Nowmbyls of Muskyls © 2000 James L. Matterer

Medieval Recipe Translations

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