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> Sekanjabin, 15th century Persian
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Posted: 14-Sep-2017, 08:36 AM
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If you've ever spent any time in the SCA, you might know what sekanjabin is. Long story short it is a summer drink that has its roots in at least the 15th century, and it still served today. I include a redacted ancient recipe for fun.

From Duke Sir Cariadoc of the Bow's Miscellany:


Dissolve 4 cups sugar in 2 1/2 cups of water; when it comes to a boil add 1 cup wine vinegar. Simmer 1/2 hour. Add a handful of mint, remove from fire, let cool. Dilute the resulting syrup to taste with ice water (5 to 10 parts water to 1 part syrup). The syrup stores without refrigeration.

Note: This is the only recipe in the Miscelleny that is based on a modern source: A Book of Middle Eastern Food, by Claudia Roden. Sekanjabin is a period drink; it is mentioned in the Fihrist of al-Nadim, which was written in the tenth century. The only period recipe I have found for it (in the Andalusian cookbook) is called "Sekanjabin Simple" and omits the mint. It is one of a large variety of similar drinks described in that cookbook-flavored syrups intended to be diluted in either hot or cold water before drinking.

Syrup of Simple Sikanjabn

Andalusian p. A-74

Take a ratl of strong vinegar and mix it with two ratls of sugar, and cook all this until it takes the form of a syrup. Drink an qiya of this with three of hot water when fasting: it is beneficial for fevers of jaundice, and calms jaundice and cuts the thirst, since sikanjabn syrup is beneficial in phlegmatic fevers: make it with six qiyas of sour vinegar for a ratl of honey and it is admirable.

This seems to be at least two different recipes, for two different medical uses. The first, at least, is intended to be drunk hot. In modern Iranian restaurants, sekanjabin is normally served cold, often with grated cucumber.

Now, being a veteran of making this syrup by the gallon for fun and profit (I work in my Laurel's Bakery, pray for me ), I can give a few notes and tips for making this.

Some like it sweet, in which case cut back somewhat on the vinegar. You will not ruin the batch by doing so. Promise.

You can use whatever sweetener you desire, but understand that anything other than sugar and honey will not produce a syrup and will not have a shelf life.

Any mint can be used. Peppermint, spearmint, flavored mints (orange, chocolate, pineapple, etc), lemon balm, catnip, etc. You can certainly experiment with blends to see what you like best.

If you want a stronger syrup, place the vinegar in the dry mint and let it macerate for a while before adding both to the hot water.

You can probably get a second round of syrup out of your batch of mint. Simply skim or strain it back out, reset the vinegar, and proceed.

Enjoy! I make the syrup by the gallon because it is wonderful to drink. Try it!

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