Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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Preface to the Recipes
Banquet scene from the Shah-Nama, Shiraz, 1444. Click for complete painting.

Most of the recipes that follow serve ten to twelve people as part of a meal consisting of at least three dishes, with some to spare for unexpected guests. Some are designed for smaller numbers, usually when large-scale preparation is impractical, such as some egg dishes.

Dishes containing meat often call for portions smaller than the one-third to one-half pound of meat per person commonly found in American and European cookbooks. This reflects Mediterranean and Asian custom, in which a number of dishes are served simultaneously, and a small amount of meat is eaten overall. In this manner economy and moderation are also served.

Recipes contributed by individuals are identified in their titles in a preface. Recipes adapted from historic sources are so noted. Traditional recipes have been derived and adapted from two or more of the sources listed in the Cookbooks section of the Bibliography.

To help with menu planning, the Index includes headings for different regional cuisines — Middle Eastern (a general term for the food of the Levant, Arabian Peninsula and Egypt); Turkish; Iranian; North African and Moroccan; Central Asian; Indian and South Asian; Indonesian; Balkan; and Anglo-American. In some cases, the categorization has been somewhat arbitrary, for cross-fertilization of cultures throughout history has resulted in many shared dishes. For example, the yogurt-cucumber salad called cacik in Turkey and mast o-khyar in Iran can also be found throughout the Middle East and India, as well. Therefore, dishes from one "repertoire" may be compatible with those from other regions. Where possible, different names from different languages for the same dish are given.

from Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
Copyright © 1999, 2000 by Kathleen Seidel
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