Ancient Recipe Book Claims Iraqi Stew Can Cure Hangovers

| by Dominic Kelly

An ancient Middle Eastern recipe for stew discovered by an Iraqi scholar maps out exactly how to avoid and treat a hangover from alcohol.

Nawal Nasrallah, an Iraqi scholar and author, discovered and translated a 10th century cookbook written by Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq, and in it, the cure for a hangover is laid out.

“There were things you take before, things you take while you are drinking, and of course after when you wake up in the morning,” said Nasrallah of the cookbook. “For example, cabbage before drinking will slow down intoxication. They also encouraged having mezze [appetizers] and alternating between having them and drinking. Take a sip and have, for example, roasted nuts.”

Al-Warraq goes on to describe in further detail how to remedy a hangover after a night of drinking.

“You need to know that drinking cold water first thing in the morning is recommended only for people suffering from … hangovers,” wrote the ancient author. “However, they should avoid drinking it in one big gulp. Rather, they need to have it in several small doses and breathe deeply between one dose and the other.”

The book goes on to recommend that Kkishkiyya, an ancient meat and chickpea stew, be eaten in between sips of water.

“The nourishing dish to have when in the gripes of a hangover one craves some food,” the author wrote of Kkishkiyya. “Having eaten it intoxicated one will be all anew and the hangover will itself renew.”

Kashk, which is essentially dried yogurt and bulgur, is added to the stew as well.

Here is the entire receipt, via The Daily Mail:


3lbs of meat, 1/2 lb of chopped onion, 4 ounces of fresh herbs, a handful of chickpeas, 1 piece of galangal, 1/2 cup of olive oil, seasonal green vegetables, khask (or plain yogurt as a substitute), the juce of unripe sour grapes, 6 grams of cumin, 6 grams cassia, 1 gram cloves, 1 gram spikenard (or other aromatic root-based oil).

Cooking Directions

Translated from Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq's cookbook:

Wash 3lbs meat and put it in a pot. Add 1/2lb chopped onion, 4 ounces fresh herbs, a handful of chickpeas, 1 piece galangal, and 1/2 cup olive oil. 

Pour water enough to submerge the ingredients in the pot. Let the pot cook until meat is almost done. Add any of the seasonal green vegetables and a little chard.

When everything in the pot is cooked, add 1/2 of kashk.

Pound them into fine powder and dissolve them in 2 cups juice of unripe sour grapes. Add it to the cooking pot.

When kashk is done, add 6 grams cumin and an equal amount of cassia. 

Add a handful of finely chopped onion. Do not stir the pot. When the onion cooks and falls apart, add to the pot 1 gram cloves and a similar amount of spikenard.

Stop fueling the fire, let the pot simmer and rest on the remaining heat, then take it down.

This is how to make basic kishkiyya and it can substitute for all other kinds. However, you might add variety by making it less or more sour, to suit your taste, and putting whatever other vegetables you prefer.

Translated recipe for kashk:

After you boil wheat and dry it, crush it coarsely and winnow it to get rid of all bran and finely ground grains (duqaq).

Knead the sifted grains with enough hot water, and a small amount of yeast. Put the dough in a tub and leave it exposed to the sun. 

Uncover it during the day and cover it during the night. Do this for six-days or more until it becomes intensely sour.

Finely chop as many kinds of herbs as you like. However, you should avoid endive and watercress because they are not good [with kishk]. Use a lot of tender-leaf leeks, cilantro, and rue. 

If you prefer to use finely chopped small round onions, do so by all means. You can also add eggplant, gourd, and cabbage. All these will make it quite delicious.

Now add small and sour plum. Sour grape juice will be good, too. Knead together all the ingredients very well and leave the dough in a sunny place for five days. 

Then divide it into portions, which you shape into discs and set aside to dry out. When completely dry, thread them into necklace-like links, and hang them [for storage].

If you like, you can substitute water [used in kneading the grains] with defatted sour yogurt. In this case, of all the herbs mentioned above, use only cultivated mint and parsley.