Mishmishiya, from the Arabic for Apricot (Mishmish), is a slow cooked meat, almond and apricot dish first recorded by al-Baghdadi in 1226. The recipe itself does not specify which meat should be used, I tried it with lamb and again with beef but mutton and kid seem just as likely options …they are just a little harder to find in and around Swansea on a limited budget. Lamb and apricot works really well and was the clear favourite of the two.
The recipe calls for Mastic, a sort of Mediterranean chewing gum that I managed to find in a shop in Swansea called the Masala Bazaar on St. Helen’s Road…probably not essential though the almonds thicken the stock enough truth be told.
This recipe serves about six people.
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon of pulverised mastic
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
A few crushed peppercorns
1 teaspoon of minced ginger
500 g Apricots
A few stamens of saffron
A few drops of rose water.
The Recipe. (Translation of Original found in Claudia Roden’s A Middle Eastern Feast, Penguin, 2011)
Cut meat small, add to saucepan with salt and cover with water. Boil and remove scum. Chop an onion and add to the meat. Add the coriander cumin, mastic, cinnamon, pepper and ginger. Boil apricots in separate pan and then sieve Take the juice and add to the meat. Chop almonds finely and add to the meat pot. Add some saffron for colour, a little rose water and leave to settle over the fire.
Alternatively, use spices and seasoning as a dry rub, brown off meat in pan. This is not in the original recipe, but the maillard reaction improves the taste of meat, right? Add all the other ingredients to a tagine and leave on low heat (150 C) for about 3 hours.
I will find it difficult to proselytize without swearing. I love lamb, and while I am used to seeing it with mint sauce apricots work just as well… if not better. As with any slow cooked dish the meat just melts in your mouth. I really loved this…more than I can say for some of the other things I have made for this blog… medieval ginger bread for example.
Give it a try, I promise you will love it. (Unless you are a veggie…in which case, you probably won’t!)