In the Foodsteps of Ibn Battuta

posted 28 May 2012, 15:45 by lisha linski   [ updated 21 May 2016, 04:29 by Parkholme Supperclub ]
11th June 2016



Ibn Battuta was my kind of guy. Not only one of the very first travel writers, he was probably one of the greatest travellers of all time. Aged 20, in 1325, he set off from Tangiers in Morocco on the Hajj pilgimage and only made it home after 29 years of travel, several wives, many great meals and an astonishing 75,000 miles without the aid of modern transportation. The countries he visited were the equivalent of 44 modern countries and include China, Russia, India, Malaysia and almost all of Northern and eastern Africa and the Middle East. He even made it to the fabled Timbuktu. In Europe, he got to Spain and Bulgaria. He died aged around 65, finally back home in Morocco.

This kind of travel was made possible by a world order that saw much of the world largely peaceful, divided by the Ottoman Empire and the Mongols who had by then consolidated their empire. This guaranteed relatively safe passage for caravans and it was a time of expanding world trade and the rise of the Silk Road. It is no coincidence that Marco Polo also journeyed around the same time, although only 1/3 of the distance. We too are lucky to live in such a time but the lessons of history tell us that this does not always last, in that case it was brought to an end by the Black Death, so we should enjoy it whilst we can.

Well we have almost half a world of recipes to choose from but here are some of the great dishes from a selection of the countries he visited. I’m sure he had some truly awful meals too but we’ll try to avoid that!


  • Russian Beetroot Cured Salmon, served on Blini

  • Moroccan Zaalouk, an aubergine and tomato dip

  • Egyptian Taameya, or falafels, home made and served with Tahina sauce

  • Turkish/Ottoman Mercimek Kofte, a tasty vegetarian kofte with fresh herbs

  • Dungpo Pork from the beautiful Hangzhou in China, which was the largest city in the world when he visited ... one of the 2 famous dishes of Hangzhou but I’m not a big fan of West Lake Fish,  which is a bit vinegary for my taste

  • Gujarati Dhokla, a steamed savoury cake with coriander leaf

  • Tajik chickpea and onion stew - this is really rather suprisingly good! Secret ingredient is saffron

  • Iran/Pakistan/Northern India – Patra ni Machli, a Zoroastrian/Parsee light fish dish with fresh herbs; the Parsees fled Iran to the Indian sub-continent in the 10thC to evade the muslims and remain genetically distinct to this day

  • Sabernih Bezzet a delicious spinach and onions mezze from Syria

  • Maffe Tigidigi - yes, we're going to try a  dish from Timbuktu!

  • Banitsa, a sort of Bulgarian spiral cheesecake

  • Gula Malacca, a coconut milk and palm sugar speciality from Malacca in Malaysia where Ibn Battutah stopped off

To be honest, I’d be very happy with the left-overs from any of these dishes, they are all delicious! Very difficult to decide what to cook....
Price will be £45 of which £35 will go direct to MSF as usual.
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