Muhammad Bin Hasan Al-Baghdadi

Muhammad Bin Hasan Al-Baghdadi died in 1239 AD. Before that, he made a legendary Arabic cookbook.

Muḥammad Bin Al-Karīm Al-Baghdadi, usually called Al-Baghdadi died in 1239 AD. He was the compiler of an early Arab cookbook of the Abbasid period, كتاب الطبيخ Kitab al-Ṭabīḫ called The Book of Dishes, written in 1226. The original book contained 160 recipes. Over the centuries, 260 recipes were added to later editions.

Al Baghdadi Cookbook, Muhammad bin Hasan al-Baghdadi.

Ingredients Used In The Cookbook

Egypt was well known as the central market for vegetables and citrus fruits. While in Iraq and Syria, there were orchards filled with apples, pomegranates, plums, figs, pears, cherries, and twenty-one varieties of apricots. Syria and Palestine produced olive oil in abundance. Raisins were dried and transported from Jerusalem, olives from Palmyra, wheat from Egypt, millet from southern Arabia, sheep and goats from Palestine, fish from Shihr (near Aden), and pigeons from special fattening towers everywhere. During the early Islamic period, sugarcane, spinach, mangoes, and bananas were among the new crops introduced from Asia. Before the European influence came with the Crusades, the Arabs controlled the spice trade. There were plenty of spices to choose from.

A substantial increase in rice production occurred during the early days of the caliphate, notably in the valley of Jordan. Rice remained expensive. Al-Asma’i, in the ninth century, described white rice with melted butter and white sugar as a dish not of this world. Wheat, millet, and barley were still the commonest grains, though their flours were variable in quality.

The Original Al-Baghdadi Manuscript

Arabic Historical Cookbook

The only original manuscript of Al-Baghdadi’s book survives at Süleymaniye Library in IstanbulTurkey. According to Charles Perry, “For centuries, it had been the favorite cookbook of the Turks.” Further recipes had been added to the original by Turkish compilers at an unknown date. They retitled Kitâbü’l-Vasfi’l-Et‘ime el-Mu‘tâde, with two of its known three copies found at the Topkapı Palace Library. Eventually, Muhammad ibn Mahmud al-Shirwani, the physician of Murad II, prepared a Turkish translation of the book. This version added around 70 contemporary recipes. This translation was published in modern Turkish in 2005. A modern Turkish translation of the original book (co-edited by Charles Perry) was published in 2009.

Al-Baghdadi Cookbook In Modern Use

This traditional cookbook with more than 600 recipes is considered a classic today. The recipes in The Book of Dishes are replicated when bringing the luxurious cuisine of the past to the current. International scholars versed in culinary history, food chemistry, and cuneiform studies have been recreating dishes from Al-Baghdadi’s cookbook every few years.

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