Asida (Arabic: عصيدة ‘aṣīdah) is a dish made up of a cooked wheat flour lump of dough, sometimes with added butter or honey. Similar to gruel or porridge, it is eaten in many North African and Middle Eastern countries. Considered one of the most popular desserts and traditional dish in many Arab countries. It is particularly popular in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia. It is usually eaten by hand, without the use of utensils. Often served during religious holidays such as Mawlid and Eid, it is also served during traditional ceremonies accompanying the birth of child, such as the ‘aqīqah, the cutting of the hair of a newborn seven days after birth.
|Region or state||Middle East, North Africa|
|Main ingredients||wheat flour, butter or honey|
A simple yet rich dish, often eaten without other complementary dishes, it is traditionally served at breakfast and is also fed to women in labor.
The word asida is an Arabic word that is derived from the root عصد (asad), meaning 'twist it'.
One of the earliest documented recipes for asida is found in a tenth century Arabic cookbook by Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq called Kitab al-Ṭabīḫ (Arabic: كتاب الطبيخ, The Book of Dishes). It was described as a thick pudding of dates cooked with clarified butter (samn). Also a recipe for asida was mentioned in an anonymously authored Hispano-Muslim cookbook dating to the 13th century. In the 13th and 14th centuries, in the mountainous region of the Rif along the Mediterranean coast of Morocco, a flour made from lightly grilled barley was used in place of wheat flour. A recipe for asida that adds argan seed oil was documented by Leo Africanus (c. 1465-1550), the Arab explorer known as Hasan al-Wazan in the Arab world. According to the French scholar Maxime Rodinson, asida were typical foods among the Bedouin of pre-Islamic and, probably, later times.
The Tunisian version of this dish is served with either a mixture of honey and butter, or tomato-based hot sauce. The latter is more common later in the day and the former earlier. Assida is also commonly consumed with date syrup in southern parts of Tunisia.
On a high heat a pot is placed and then boiling water is added. Slowly, handfuls of wholemeal wheat are added and then are mixed quickly with a large wooden spoon so that clumps do not form. The process is repeated until the mixture is very thick. Traditionally the cook lowers the pot to the floor where they wrap their flip-flops around the hot pot and start vigorously mixing the dough. Finally, using bare oiled hands the hot, steaming dough is shaped by the cook and usually placed in a wide, wooden bowl.
Sometimes a depression is made in the middle of the shaped Aseedah so that a hot chili tomato paste is added or Helba, a fenugreek mixture made with parsley and garlic. Lamb or chicken stock is then poured around the Aseedah. It is then served hot.
Aseedah can also be made using white, bleached wheat. Furthermore honey can be used instead of stock and chili/Helba.
It is a meal, using only boiled water, flour, and some salt. Typically it is smothered in beef soup or chicken or even lamb.
It is usually served boiling hot and eaten with hands or spoons.
Aseed is eaten particularly at lunchtime and during Ramadan.
- Famous Everyday Dishes from the Medieval Arab World
- Al‑Warrāq's, Ibn Sayyār; Nasrallah, Nawal (2007). annals of the caliphs' kitchens: ibn sayyār al-warrāq's tenth-century baghdadi cookbook authors. Brill. p. 97. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
- Al‑Warrāq, Ibn Sayyār; Nasrallah, Nawal. "annals of the caliphs' kitchens: ibn sayyār al-warrāq's tenth-century baghdadi cookbook". books. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
- Al‑Warrāq's, Ibn Sayyār; Nasrallah, Nawal (2007). annals of the caliphs' kitchens: ibn sayyār al-warrāq's tenth-century baghdadi cookbook authors. Brill. p. 97,98. Retrieved 29 August 2018.