Historical Food Fortnightly: Challenge #4: Foreign Foods

It's time again for another Historical Food Fortnightly event...this time, an 1844 English/American version of an Arabian dish called Dumpokht.

The Challenge: Foreign Foods: Dumpokht - E.R. – (The dish mentioned in the book 1001 Arabian Nights as the Kid stuffed with Pistachio Nuts ) from A New System of Domestic Cookery by Maria Rundell.

The Recipe: You can read all about the history of the recipe HERE at The Old Foodie.  I won't claim to have her research skills. But here's the basic 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.

The Date/Year and Region: 1844 English/American recipe, based on an Arabian dish. (*Note: There are earlier editions of this cookbook dating back to 1807.)

How Did You Make It: Check out the pics below...

Blend the spices with the onion.

Coat the chicken meat with the above mixture.

Chop the nuts and raisins.

Add the nuts and raisins to the broth and rice.

Cook rice as usual.

Grab the MASSIVE amount of butter required.

Melt the butter in the bottom of your pot.

Fry the chicken. *It's really more like boiling the chicken in butter.*

Remove the chicken from the butter when it's cooked thoroughly.

Add the cooked rice mixture to the butter that remains in the pot.  Let it soak it all up for a few minutes.

Then add the chicken back in and season with salt if you like.

Time to Complete: About an hour.

How Successful Was It?: Why is every dish from the past either brown or yellow?  Seriously?  I've realized that my modern culinary sensibilities are so used to a variety of colors in my food.  From red peppers to purple beets to bright green salads and refreshing blueberries, everything I eat now not only tastes and smells good, but looks good too.  I had to add cilantro to freshen it up a bit.  Looks aside, I would definitely make this dish again.  The texture was soft, with bits of crunch from the pistachios.  It was filling, warm and tasty too...buttery and nutty with a bite of sweet every now and again.  I actually expected it to be much more pungent than it was, because it called for so many strong spices.  But in reality, the flavors were both subtle, and distinct.  Everything about this dish (except the color) was well balanced.

I'm not a huge meat eater, and I think I would like this dish just as much, if not more, without the chicken.  If I wanted to make this dish Vegetarian friendly, I would cook the rice, etc as stated, and then just brown the butter with the onion/spice mixture and pour it over the rice.  Give it a good stir and serve it like that.  It's tasty stuff!

How Accurate Is It?: To be honest, I feel like the recipe is a bit confusing.  It starts by saying I should stuff my meat and then later tells me to add the rice etc. to the fried meat.  So which is it?  Although all of the ingredients are the same, I did not use a whole fowl (chicken, in my case) but instead only used thigh meat. Because of this, I could not stuff the bird.  Instead, I made the rice/pistachio/almond/raisin part of the meal separately, and then added it to the cooked chicken and butter later.  I chopped the chicken thighs and fried them in the butter...and WOW...SOOOO much butter it was...and then the rice dish, when added, soaked up all of the extra butter and chicken fat.  Another alteration I made was using only one onion instead of four.  One was enough.  Also, I used modern cooking appliances.


Stephanie Ann said…
Looks good! That looked like a ton of butter.

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