Thousand years of Islamic Cuisines: ‘Kitab al-Tabikh’ was written in 10th century on cuisine of Caliph of Baghdad | ‘Tannur’ became “Tandoori.” — Read and view all on Saudi Armco World com

Crossroads and Diasporas: A Thousand Years of Islamic Cuisines - Written by Rachel Laudan

An illustrated chronicle of recipes called the Book of Delights from the late 1400s from Mandu, India, shows Sultan Ghiyath al-Din receiving dishes prepared by his royal kitchen. Later, the Mughals created their cuisine from a confluence of Persian, Turkic and Indian elements. 

BRITISH LIBRARY / BRIDGEMAN IMAGES (DETAIL)

An illustrated chronicle of recipes called the Book of Delights from the late 1400s from Mandu, India, shows Sultan Ghiyath al-Din receiving dishes prepared by his royal kitchen. Later, the Mughals created their cuisine from a confluence of Persian, Turkic and Indian elements. 

aghdad was the “crossroads of the universe,” said the first caliph of the Abbasid Empire when he founded a circular city in 762. And so it was at the time: 5000 kilometers (3000 mi) to the borders of China in the east and another 5000 to the Pillars of Gibraltar at the entrance to the Atlantic in the west. By a couple of hundred years later, a single high cuisine had been created in Baghdad, and following the intertwined Silk Roads and the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean, conquerors, merchants, pilgrims, religious orders and cooks had spread it across this hemispheric space. Everywhere the cuisine rested on advances in farming and food preparation and was enjoyed by the elite in prosperous cities. Never static, never homogeneous, always absorbing from and contributing to other culinary traditions, the earliest Islamic high cuisine was given coherence by a culinary philosophy that integrated religious belief with political and dietary theory.

Four snapshots of the globalization of the cuisine over the past thousand years show how it spread in waves from its heartland, gaining from and giving to other cuisines of city dwellers, nomads and those of different faiths until today, when its ripples have touched almost every corner of the inhabited globe.

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Left: TODD COLEMAN; RIGHT: IGNACIO URQUIZA

One of many dishes that evoke the historic reach of Islamic cuisine is tharid, or bread moistened with broth, left (shown here in a modern variant with potatoes). By tradition a dish favored by the Prophet Muhammad, it became part of the first Islamic high cuisine in Baghdad, and also in Muslim Iberia (al-Andalus), where Christians replaced the broth with syrup and carried the dish they called capirotada to the New World, where it remains popular today in Mexico, right.

1000 ce: The high cuisine of the Abbasid Caliphate

The first Islamic high cuisine, the high cuisine of the caliphate, was well established by 1000. To refine the simple cuisine of the Arabs, based on dates, milk and barley, the cooks of the court in Baghdad profited from a continuous tradition of high cuisines stretching back through a succession of Persian imperial kitchens to those of ancient Mesopotamia. Its physicians drew on the most advanced dietary theories, those of Galen in the Roman Empire and Caraka and Susruta in India. Healthful eating was one and the same as delicious eating. High cuisines were right and proper for rulers who cared for their realms as gardeners cared for their domains. Food, like the other worldly pleasures, drink, clothes, sex, scent and sound, was believed to be a foreshadowing of Paradise. It was the greatest of them all, said the author who at the end of the 13th century compiled the collection of recipes now known as the Baghdad cookbook, because, he asserted, without food none of the other pleasures could be enjoyed.

The high cuisine was enjoyed in Damascus, Aleppo, Cairo, Palermo in Sicily, and Córdoba, Seville and Granada in Spain—all Muslim by 1000. At the end of the 10th century, the first surviving cookbook in Arabic, the Kitab al-Tabikh (Book of Dishes), had been compiled by Ibn Sayyan al-Warraq as a record of the cuisine of the Caliph of Baghdad and his courtiers. Five others remain from the 13th century, and yet others are attested to, more cookbooks than anywhere else in the world at that time.

In the cities, watermills ground wheat into flour. Sugar refineries evaporated the juice of sugarcane, a plant introduced from India, to make several grades of sugar. New methods of distillation created aromatic essences of rose petals and orange blossoms. Oil was pressed from olives, as well as from sesame and poppy seeds. Egg production, sausage and preserved meat preparation, butter (samn), cheese, bread and confectionery were all in the hands of skilled specialists.

Clockwise from top-left, from top: A detail from a 15th-century page of sketches of a nomadic Mongol encampment shows a man cooking; Mongol rulers adopted much in Muslim cuisine, creating a kind of pragmatic—and tasty—“culinary diplomacy” in the lands they overtook. Three details from Sultan Ghiyath al-Din's Book of Delights illustrate other kitchen scenes: male cooks mincing meat, and female cooks using a variety of cookware and serving food onto a platter.

top-Left: topkapi palace museum / bridgeman images; british library / bridgeman images (3) (details)

Clockwise from top-left, from top: A detail from a 15th-century page of sketches of a nomadic Mongol encampment shows a man cooking; Mongol rulers adopted much in Muslim cuisine, creating a kind of pragmatic—and tasty—“culinary diplomacy” in the lands they overtook. Three details from Sultan Ghiyath al-Din’s Book of Delights illustrate other kitchen scenes: male cooks mincing meat, and female cooks using a variety of cookware and serving food onto a platter.

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national library of austria / alnari / bridgeman images

The fine, somewhat fanciful “Eastern” dress of the man on the left side of this 14th-century Italian illustration of sugarcane cultivation suggests the extent Europeans, up through the 1600s, experienced sugar as a luxury product of Islamic lands.

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In the 1930s, Maxime Rodinson, Daub Chelebi and A. J. Arberry directed the first serious scholarly attention to medieval Islamic cuisines. Since then, scholars have traced the origins and development of Islamic cuisines, reprinted cookbooks in Arabic, translated them into English and Spanish and offered modern versions of recipes that date back to medieval times. It is thanks to these scholars, and evidence of the public interest that the long history of Islamic cuisines evokes, that it is now possible to write this brief overview of Islamic cuisines and their global role. And to recognize this: that the mint julep of the American south and the gulab jamun of India; the curries of Mughal India and the mole of Mexico; and the glittering aspic of French haute cuisine, the tart cebiche of Peru, and the humble fish and chips of England all share a thousand-year-old taproot.

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35,000 children in Mombasa do not go to school — By REBECCA OKWANY on Relief Web

In Summary

  • The county government with the help of investors is seeking to have these children schooled through an informal programme.

  • The first beneficiaries of the programme will be 800 students selected from 16 schools in the county.

  • Each school which has a nursery school, primary and secondary school will select a concept to adopt from six categories.

  • The programme will be tailored on the areas of maritime, performing arts, sports, entrepreneurship, urban design, hospitality and leisure.

 

At least 35,000 children in Mombasa do not attend school as result of poverty and only 55 per cent make it to secondary school, an education forum heard Wednesday.

It is for this reason that the county government with the help of investors is seeking to have these children schooled through an informal programme.

The programme will be tailored on the areas of maritime, performing arts, sports, entrepreneurship, urban design, hospitality and leisure, county executive officer for Education Tendai Mtana said.

“Mombasa is losing an average of between 40 to 45 per cent of children from the education system. Only 55 per cent make it to secondary school,” he said.

“We must know where every child. We cannot have children enrolled in schools and then lose 20 per cent at standard four, 40 per cent by the time they get to standard eight and to have only 12 per cent to get to university,” he noted.

The first beneficiaries of the programme will be 800 students selected from 16 schools in the county.

Each will be sponsored at a cost of Sh32, 000 per year for three years, Mr Mtana told education stakeholders during a conference at Aga Khan Academy.

 

Read more on http://reliefweb.int/report/kenya/35000-children-mombasa-do-not-go-school

 

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Aga Khan Museum gift shop a treasure den: Stealth Shopper — The Star com Toronto

Gift shop full of artsy Farsi products geared to everyone on your Christmas list.

The majority of the items in the Aga Khan Museum gift shop are unique to the museum. About half are designed exclusively for the museum in distant lands including Egypt, Jordan and Turkey.

The majority of the items in the Aga Khan Museum gift shop are unique to the museum. About half are designed exclusively for the museum in distant lands including Egypt, Jordan and Turkey.

 

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Tanzania’s Safe Motherhood Text Messaging Service Enters its Third Year with Half a Million Registrants — PR Web com

The Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby Text Messaging Service (aka the Wazazi Nipendeni SMS service) is celebrating a milestone while entering its 3rd year. The service served over 500,000 Tanzanian men and women, whom cumulatively received 40 million informative safe motherhood messages and reminders, since its launch.

So what makes this program so successful? The answer lies in the collaboration of a diverse group of partners. “Each partner takes responsibility for its part in the service implementation, ranging from technical assistance to media promotion and training activities in health facilities. It’s a resilient collaboration as we all share the common goal to improve maternal health and reduce infant mortality.

Our partners benefit from this participation, as most use the service as a tool to strengthen their own specific safe motherhood activities,” explains Mr. Saulo Mutasingwa, U.S. Government Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation Project Manager for the mHealth Tanzania Public-Private Partnership program in Tanzania. His organization manages the text messaging service in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoHSW) . The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) – through the CDC – funded the development of the service and continues to provide financial and technical support for its further development and operation.

Partnering for sustainability

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Progress Against All Odds Universities in Afghanistan — Article by Martin Gerner on ‘Fikrun wa Fann’ Multi language Paper of Goethe Institute

Drawing from the book Es war einmal oder nicht. Afghanische Kinder und ihre Welt (Once Upon A Time Or Maybe Not At All. Afghan Children and Their World) by Roger Willemsen, S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt 2013.

Drawing from the book Es war einmal oder nicht. Afghanische Kinder und ihre Welt (Once Upon A Time Or Maybe Not At All. Afghan Children and Their World) by Roger Willemsen, S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt 2013.

The Afghan university system faces some unenviable problems. In the near future the field of academic education will struggle to cope with the consequences of a huge rise in the country’s birth rate. Two-thirds of the Afghan population are under the age of twenty-five. This means that, every year, more and more schoolchildren are competing for places at institutions of higher education. Can the Afghan education system handle it?

The development over recent years is as remarkable as it is problematic. In 2002, various sources registered a total of 8,000 students across the country. In 2009 the number was 62,000. By the end of 2013, it was around 120,000. We read that there are around 70,000 to 80,000 higher education places within the state system for an estimated 300,000 school leavers. Even if a degree of scepticism is called for when confronted with these kinds of figures in the context of Afghanistan, fair access to higher education and equal opportunities are already a growing challenge for the Afghan state.

For example: every year, around the time of the concours – the written entrance exam for the state universities – there are the usual intrigues, bribery and greasing of palms. ‘There’s a tradition of fraud in the majority of faculties,’ says one Kabul lecturer. ‘The ministerial bureaucracy itself is involved. And there’s not much point in demanding equality of opportunity from a judiciary that’s not independent.’ Some accusations and complaints also end up on television and in the media. So far, this has not resolved the problem. There is great resistance at all levels. Insiders report that it is frequently wealthy or influential families who succeed in shoehorning their children onto medicine or engineering courses in this way, even when there are others who have better results.

Three-tier education

From a student’s point of view, the landscape of Afghan higher education is degenerating into a three-tier society. The small social group that manages to snare the lucrative foreign scholarships to study in Europe, the US or Australia has the best chance. Since 2002, for example, the German Academic Exchange Service’s ‘Afghanistan Stability Pact’, financed by the German Foreign Office, has enabled numerous scholars to study for a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in Germany. The idea is that the returning scholars will become lecturers and teachers, form the nucleus of newly-equipped faculties, and raise them up to an international academic level. All scholars must, incidentally, sign a statement that they will return to their homeland on finishing their studies. In the past, not all of them have done so.

The second group are those students who win a place at one of Afghanistan’s 26 state universities. The syllabus and administration are often outdated, the equipment rudimentary by international standards, and the establishments run in a spirit that is sometimes reminiscent of a disciplinary institution: but a place at a state university does still open doors, if only to further studies in neighbouring India or Pakistan.

The third group – the estimated 50,000 to 70,000 young men and women who fail the concours, or who are defeated by the system – can resort to one of around 75 private universities. Over the past six years these institutes have been shooting up like mushrooms. Competition among them is fierce. They do not receive state funding, and all are vying for the students’ – or their parents’ – favour and money, placing conspicuous billboards on Kabul’s main squares and banners on Internet websites. This has had consequences that one is tempted to describe as typically Afghan. Successful Afghan businessmen have, for example, founded institutes of higher education – but political agents, including governors, converted warlords and even former Taliban have also got involved. All of these are included among the founders or co-founders of new private institutes. In this way they hope to be able to exert long-term influence over Afghan society and its youth. The strictly conservative, Saudi-friendly Mujaheddin leader Abdul Salam Sayyaf has given more than just the name to Dawat University, while Ariya private university is seen as belonging to Mazar’s governor Atta Noor – and these are just two examples of many.

Profit over entrance exams

The crux of the private universities: ‘There are no entrance exams. This means that all students are accepted. But that way the standard doesn’t go up – it remains consistently low,’ criticises Ali Amiri, a lecturer and co-founder of Ibn Sina private university in Kabul. Over the past two years, he says, the number of students there has risen from 400 to 1,400 – at least a third of whom are women. ‘The university makes around one million US dollars a year from study fees alone,’ Amiri calculates. The institution wants to use this income over the next decade to buy land and build a bigger campus outside the city gates. Other private universities are seeking more short-term profits, which seems to be symptomatic of the unbridled capitalism that characterises the Afghan economy.

In the midst of all this new academic confusion, one university seems to be in a league of its own: the American University of Kabul, established and supported by powerful associations, from the government to US universities to well-off individuals. The fees, in US dollars, for one year of study are well into the realms of four figures. Only a few of the new Kabul and Afghan elite can afford this, which is why the university is seen as a forge for the careers of the children of government ministers and ministerial officials.

The private universities may have one advantage: this is where you will find relatively young and flexible staff, such as dedicated young women working as lecturers on freelance contracts. Some have studied at elite universities in the US and Europe; they prefer to work outside the old government-run structures, and are well-connected.

Not without optimism

‘At the state universities, it’s not unusual for older lecturers to block the transition into the new era. Some of them refuse to make way for the next generation, even though they were officially pensioned off years ago and the younger lecturers are better qualified,’ observes Niamatullah Ibrahimi. Nonetheless, it seems that the young generation is not giving up. ‘In our faculty in Kabul in 2002, only around ten percent of the lecturers used to have a Master’s degree. Now it’s around eighty percent,’ one former overseas scholar comments optimistically. He reels off a list: more and better English textbooks, a well-appointed lab, new microscopes and 36 teaching staff. The faculty is changing. And those who don’t land one of the coveted foreign scholarships for Europe, Australia or the United States turn their attention instead to Afghanistan’s neighbours: India, Pakistan, or Tajikistan. ‘Several Kabul University lecturers are there at the moment doing their Master’s degrees,’ says a member of staff at the Faculty of Fine Arts. The tuition is affordable, he explains; visas are easy to obtain, and performance standards are not too high. And they speak Persian there, too.

It is as so often in Afghanistan: there’s more than one way of looking at things. What the system really needs is an immediate, fundamental reform. Yet at the same time things are starting to move forwards, sometimes quite substantially, despite all warnings to the contrary.

Martin Gerner is a freelance journalist and filmmaker with a focus on Afghanistan. He lives in Cologne.
Translated by Charlotte Collins
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Fikrun wa Fann
June 2014

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Source: http://www.goethe.de/ges/phi/prj/ffs/the/a101/en13019887.htm

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“Names of God” — by Matthew Fox on Tikkun org

Ancient Buddhist texts claim that “God has a million faces.” This perspective is just one of many among different religions and cultures that describe a diverse array of names given to God. Credit: Davi Barker sell1234.wix.com/eccentric-circle and Tikkun Daily Gallery.

Fourteenth-century mystic and activist Meister Eckhart says “all the names we give to God come from an understanding of ourselves.” If he is correct, then as humanity’s self-understanding and understanding of the cosmos evolve, then clearly our God-names will evolve in response.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow reminds us that the Book of Exodus is also known as the Book of Names because God goes through two name changes within its pages. Why is this? In his article “When the World Turns Upside-Down, Do We Need to Rename God,” Waskow suggests it is because “the old Name cannot inspire a new sense of reality … God is different when the world is different.”

So where do we go for new names for God? The ancient texts of Buddhism say: “God has a million faces,” and ancient Hindu texts discuss “the one Being the wise call by many names.” Thirteenth-century Christian theologian Thomas Aquinas is much wilder—he says that every creature is a name for God—and no creature is. He observes that apostles and prophets praise God in the Scriptures in this way

As the Cause of all things, as good, as beautiful; as wise; as beloved; as God of gods; as holy of holies; as eternal; as wisdom; as reason; as justice; as virtue; as in spirits, as in bodies, as in heaven and on earth, at the same time in the same place, in the world, involved in the world, above the world, supercelestial or above the heavens, supersubstantial; as the sun, as a star; fire; water; air; and dew; as cloud; stone; rock and all the other beings attributed to God as cause. And the Divine One is none of these beings insofar as God surpasses all things.

Is Aquinas in this passage revealing himself to be an unabashed polytheist? Or has he merged polytheism with monotheism like no one ever has, urging us to find the One God in all things? The Jewish and Muslim mantra of the One God finds a radical application in this powerful and unprecedented passage. It opens us to a new practice: Find God in one being, any being—a leaf, a flower, a star, a galaxy, a person, an animal, a musical piece, a poem, a bridge. Here lies a challenge for the ages.

The author writes, “People of all faiths can draw inspiration from the Muslim practice of reciting the ’99 most beautiful names’ for God,” and thus be encouraged to seek their own names or build upon those from Islam. 99 Names of God – Al Wadud (Most Loving) by Kelly Crosby. Credit: Kelly Crosby (izzymo.myshopify.com).

I recommend that we each pray on this profoundly meditative passage and let it pass through our open hearts. If every creature is a name for God, then all of us need to loosen up and breathe in multiple names for the Divine and be stuck on none.

People of all faiths can draw inspiration from the Muslim practice of reciting the “99 most beautiful names for God”—we can seek our own names or we can build upon the list of ninety-nine names from Islam.

The practice of seeking to rename God is not for dilettantes or pious preachers. This is serious stuff. The names we give to God come from an understanding of ourselves and our world. It is our responsibility at this critical time in human and planetary history, this tipping time, this turning time, to rename God. We cannot sit around idly living off the fumes of worn out, trite names and images of God that are failing to move anyone to save our species and the planet. Time is running out for us. We cannot hide in our comfortable religious (or anti-religious) boxes anymore.

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#StandwithPeshawar

Originally posted on Journeys to democracy:

Courtesy: Laal
Devastated at the news from Peshawar. Unless and until Pakistan doesn’t get out of this confusion of ‘good Taliban’ and ‘bad Taliban’ and treat every single criminal act as a criminal act and move to punish those who perpetuate it, whether in the name of religion or for whatever justification, we will not begin to move out of this morass. Sharing a statement from Malala Yousafzai that was just released: “I am heartbroken by this senseless and cold blooded act of terror in Peshawar that is unfolding before us. Innocent children in their school have no place in horror such as this. I condemn these atrocious and cowardly acts and stand united with the government and armed forces of Pakistan whose efforts so far to address this horrific event are commendable. I, along with millions of others around the world, mourn these children, my brothers and sisters – but we…

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