Treasure Trove of Benefits and Variety at the Table: A Fourteenth-Century Egyptian Cookbook

by Khaleel Shaikh Published on: 20th March 2018

Average 4.9 / 5. Votes 161

The Kanz al-fawāʾid fī tanwīʿ al-mawāʾid is a 14th century Egyptian cookbook that consists of 830 recipes for a variety of different dishes and beverages...



1.      Overview of the Book
2.      About the Author
3.      Table of Contents in the Book
4.      Articles on Cuisine in Muslim Heritage Website
5.      Further Reading

Figure 1. Front cover: Treasure Trove of Benefits and Variety at the Table (Brill, 2017)

1. Overview of the Book

This is an excellent effort by the author in  translating the cookbook entitled Kanz al-fawāʾid fī tanwīʿ al-mawāʾid. The author of the original 14th century Egyptian manuscript is unknown. It consists of 830 recipes for a variety of different dishes and beverages. Thanks to the author Nawal Nasrallah, it has been translated for the first time in English and is available on different platforms for purchase. The book contains an introduction, a glossary and descriptive recipes with some modern adaptations of some classical dishes.

Figures 2a-b. A banquet given by the commander-in-chief Lala Mustafa Pahsa to the janissaries in Izmit, 5 April 1578 (Source). An Ottoman Bazar scene (Source).

2. About the Author

Figure 3. Author, Nawal Nasrallah

Nawal Nasrallah, a native of Iraq, holds a Masters of Arts in English and Comparative Literature and taught English and American Literature at Baghdad and Mosul universities from 1977 through 1990. She gave a number of lectures, presentations, and demonstrations on the ancient Mesopotamian and medieval Baghdadi cuisine, as well as modern Iraqi cooking in Bloomington, Indiana, and Boston, Massachusetts.

Nasrallah produced a television program entitled “Baking with the Ancient Mesopotamians and Much More” on the ancient Sumerian flat tannur bread that is still being cooked to this day. She won second-place prize for “Milk on the Menu” cooking contest arranged by Gourmet Magazine, February 1997, and won first prize of the 1998 annual Holiday Cookie Bake-off in Bloomington, Indiana, and nationally under the aegis of Gourmet Magazine.

Of her recent publications as an independent scholar are:

  • Treasure Trove of Benefits and Variety at the Table: A Fourteenth-Century Egyptian Cookbook (Brill, 2017)
  • Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and a History of the Iraqi Cuisine (Authorhouse, 2003)
  • Beginner’s Iraqi Arabic (Hippocrene Books, 2006)

3. Table of Contents in the Book

  • Introduction
  • Infinite Benefits of Variety at the Table, Containing Twenty-Three Chapters on Cooking Foods, by Various Knowing Experts
  • Indispensable Instructions For Cooks
  • How to Knead Bread Dough and Bake It; and Making Varieties of Bread: Enhanced (muṭayyab), Seeded (mubazzar), Salted (mamlūḥ), and More
  • Measures Taken When Drinking Water, in a muzammal,1 and Chilled with Ice (thalj maḍrūb)
  • Qualities of Air-Cooled Water and What the Physicians Said About It
  • Miscellany of Dishes
  • Making murrī (Liquid Fermented Sauce), and Preserving Sour Grape Juice (māʾ al-ḥiṣrim) and Lemon Juice (māʾ al-laymūn)
  • Eggs Cooked as Omelets and Other Dishes
  • Vegetarian Dishes (muzawwarāt al-buqūl) for the Nourishment of the Sick
  • All Kinds of Dishes Made with Different Varieties of Fish
  • Making All Kinds of Sweets (ḥalwā)
  • Digestive Stomachics (juwārishnāt), Electuaries (maʿājin), and Drinks (ashriba) Offered Before and After the Meal
  • Making fuqqāʿ (Foamy Beer), and Other Drinks
  • Dried-Apricot Compote (naqūʿ al-mishmish)
  • Making Preparations Which Relieve Nausea (adwiyat al-qaraf)
  • Making Mustard [Condiments], Mild and Pungent Hot
  • On Making Table Sauces (ṣulūṣāt)
  • Of Dishes Made with Dairy (albān): kawāmikh (Fermented Condiments), jājaq (Drained-Yogurt Condiment), Condiments with kabar (Capers), and zaʿtar (Thyme), bīrāf (Clotted Cream), and the Like
  • All Kinds of Pickled Turnips and Onions, Pickling Fruits and Vegetables of All Kinds, and Preserving Lemons, Damascus Citron and the Like, in Salt
  • Making Cold Dishes (bawārid)
  • On Aromatics (ṭīb), and the Properties of Toothpicks (khilāl) Made from Willow Wood (ṣafṣāf) and Egyptian Willow Twigs (ʿīdān al-khilāf)
  • Varieties of Aroma-Diffusing Incense, Which Fortify Spirit and Heart; Aromatizing Pills; Deodorants; and Other Preparations
  • Top Quality Perfumed Powders (dharāʾir mulūkiyya) and Other Preparations
  • Storing Fresh Fruits and Keeping Them to Use After Their Season

Figure 4a-b. Preparation of Halva, a Turkish sweet still popular today (Source)


  • Beverages for Pleasure and Health
  • Breads, Grains, Pasta, Noodles, and Sweet and Savory Pastries
  • Dairy
  • Desserts, Sweeteners, and Conserves for Pleasure and Health
  • Dishes and Prepared Foods: Main and Side Dishes, Snacks, Condiments, Pickles, Dips, and Table Sauces
  • Fats and Oils
  • Fruits and Nuts
  • Restricted Access Ingredients Used in Foods and Medicinal Preparations: Herbs, Spices, Aromatics, Minerals, Food Colors, and Seasoning Sauces
  • Kitchen and Cooking Implements, and Culinary Techniques and Terms
  • Meat
  • Medical Terms, Medicinal Preparations, and Personal Hygiene and Perfumes
  • Vegetables and Legumes
  • Weights and Measures

4. Articles on Cuisine in Muslim Heritage Website

Figures 5a-b. Bread makers transporting their goods on trays (Source). A banquet given for sheikhs and scholars (Source)

5. Further Reading

  • Nawal Nasrallah (translator), Annals of the Caliphs’ Kitchens: Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq’s Tenth-century Baghdadi Cookbook, Brill, 2007. Partially online in Google Books here.
  • Kaj Öhrnberg and Sahban Mroueh, eds., Kitab al-tabikh, Studia orientalia 60, Finnish Oriental Society, 1987. See the Pages From Kitab al-Tabikh by Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq, edited by Kaj Öhrnberg and Sahban Mroueh (published by the Finnish Oriental Society as Studia Orientalia 60).
  • Charles Perry (illustrated by Linda Sawaya), “Cooking with the Caliphs“, Saudi Aramco World, vol. 57:4 (July/August 2006), pp. 14-23: read the full text online.
  • Charles Perry, A Baghdad Cookery Book (Petits Propos Culinaires), Prospect Books, 2006.
  • A.J. Arberry, “A Baghdad cookery-book”, Islamic Culture, vol. 13 (1939), pp. 21–47 and 189-214. A translation of Kitab al-?abik? by Mu?ammad bin al-?asan bin Mu?ammad bin al-Karim al-Baghdadi, usually called al-Baghdadi (d. 1239 CE).
  • Middle Eastern & Islamic Cuisine: The Tradition Continues… An Exhibition at Yale University’s Sterling Memorial Library (February 1-April 19, 2007).

Book Review of “Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq’s Tenth-century Baghdadi Cookbook” by Nawal Nasrallah

Average 4.9 / 5. Votes 161


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