A New Yuan Shipwreck

A shipwreck dating from the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty (1271-1368 ACE), has recently been analyzed by a team of archaeologists from the Shandong Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology in China. The ship was found at a construction site in Heze City in 2010, and has been under study since that time. The ship itself was of wooden construction and measured over 21 meters long (over … Read more

Back in Black

I’ve been away. A long time as a wandering, mendicant scholar – or something like that. But now I’m back, and trying to get back to the blog and to the next volume of The Silk Road Gourmet. But good plans always get foiled by real life, so bear with me. While I’ve been away, I’ve found scholarly papers that have new Ancient Mesopotamian recipes … Read more

Culinary History Mystery 6 – Tomato Eggs

Tomato Eggs is a home-cooked Chinese dish that reminds students, travelers, and those living abroad of home. Just a whiff of this cooking and folks will tell tales of sitting in or near the kitchen as a kid as a parent made this dish – and how good it tasted! it is simple, elegant, and savory, and less than 10 – 15 minutes from wok … Read more

Traveling the Roads of Arabia

For the past forty years, archaeologists on the Saudi peninsula have been piecing together a pre-Islamic past featuring great city-states that had cultural and commercial connections with the cities of ancient Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt, Greece and Rome. These ancient trade cities are one of the foci of a new exhibit at the Sackler in Washington, DC, called Roads of Arabia. The other set of “roads” … Read more

New Flavors for the World’s Oldest Recipes

I am pleased to share with you my new article on ancient Mesopotamian cuisine entitled, “New Flavors for the World’s Oldest Recipes” in the November-December issue of Saudi Aramco World. Click the link above to read the article on the publisher’s website and peruse the other articles in the issue. I really like the magazine, because its stated objective is to build understanding between peoples … Read more

Happy Diwali: The Festival of Lights

Yesterday was the first day of – Diwali – The Festival of Lights for Hindus, Jains and Sikhs around the world. This means that for the past few weeks, women have been working overtime in kitchens throughout the subcontinent and diaspora communities to prepare traditional foods for the five-day long celebration. Many things are celebrated on Diwali, but the overarching reason for the holiday for … Read more

Lamb in a Pomegranate-Cardamom Sauce

With the autumn holidays rapidly approaching many of us are starting to give thought to what to prepare. A delicious main-course for omnivores is my Lamb in a Pomegranate-Cardamom Sauce pictured below. It is an original recipe based on Azeri/Iranian Fesenjan that is the best one-pot meal in town. Tender, juicy lamb is braised in a mouth-watering sweet and sour sauce that is served on … Read more

Name That Silk Road Ingredient 1: Pistachios

I saw these in the market the other day and I couldn’t resist a few handfuls. This is an unusual presentation for them, so I’m wondering if you know which Silk Road Ingredient they are. Hint: They are soft and slightly sweet when eaten or used at this stage. (Contest closed as of 11/1/2012 – 9 AM EST) _____ I’ll leave it up for a … Read more

Flowers that Have Changed the World of Food 3: Cloves

“And somewhere near India is the island containing the Valley of the Cloves. No merchants or sailors have ever been to the valley or have seen the kind of tree that produces cloves: its fruit, they say, is sold by genies . . . the islanders feed on them, and they never fall ill or grow old.” – Summary of Marvels (Ibrahim ibn Wasif-Shah, ca. … Read more

A New Oenogarum

Deciphering and reinventing ancient recipes is an inexact skill. To some degree, it is more like alchemy than anything else. There is a touch of science in the linguistic, historical or archaeological research; a touch of art in the choosing of ingredients and their relative quantities; and a touch of faith or intuition in what feels right from a culinary point of view. The mark … Read more

Mesopotamian Wildfowl Pie

There is a chill in the air and early mornings before the sun are best spent wrapped in a blanket, so it is time to welcome Autumn in once again. Sort of like a migratory bird taking its cues from the failing sun, I’ve realized that it is time for my annual exploration of Mesopotamian Cuisine. I have long wanted to try some of the … Read more

A New Look at Bhutanese Cuisine

A few years back, Ruth Reichl was quoted as saying that the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan had, “the world’s worst cuisine.” That quote angered me when I read it and has haunted me ever since. First of all, it isn’t true. Second of all, the statement is in itself nonsensical. How can someone proclaim something the “worst” without qualifying which characteristics earned it such a … Read more

The Uyghur Musical Instrument Workshop

In a world of mass production and consumption, it is wonderful from time to time to appreciate the beauty and increasing rarity of hand-crafted goods. One of the ways that I was recently able to do so was during a visit to a Uyghur musical instrument workshop in Kashgar. There I found a variety of instruments crafted from mulberry or apricot wood that, in addition … Read more

The Color of Pomegranates

He grabbed a pomegranate from the table next to him and flashed a shy smile my way as I approached. I nodded and a quick flash of steel followed by a skilled twist and the fruit was open. He placed half on the machine, spun the wheel and a few seconds later blood-red juice flowed from its silver jaws into my glass. The scent was … Read more

Global Table Adventure – Pakistan

I am honored once again to have Sasha Martin adapt recipes from The Silk Road Gourmet for her explorations of global cuisines at Global Table Adventure. This past week she has cooked three recipes from Pakistan from Volume One of my book: Rice with Pine Nuts and Garlic, Mixed Bean Salad and Sweet Coffee with Cinnamon and Cardamom. The dishes have never looked more beautiful … Read more

Omani Kofta at Global Table Adventure

Friend of the Silk Road Gourmet, Sasha Martin of Global Table Adventure has prepared Omani Kofta from a recipe donated by yours truly. The recipe is for sausages that can be made from beef or lamb and flavored with cumin, and cinnamon. These are then bathed in a rich zucchini sauce full of parsley and mint. Delicious, easy to prepare, and as the photo of … Read more