A recipe book commissioned by Majd al-Sultaneh MANIJEH Qajar Persia, circa 1900
Lot 43
An unusual recipe book commissioned by Majd al-Sultaneh Qajar Persia, circa 1900
Sold for £1,320 (US$ 2,218) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
An unusual recipe book commissioned by Majd al-Sultaneh
Qajar Persia, circa 1900
Persian manuscript on paper, 37 leaves, 12 lines to the page written in elegant nasta'liq script in black ink, names of recipes written in larger nasta'liq, catchwords, purple shagreen, faded, spine worn, doublures and flyleaves of marbled paper
197 x 122 mm.


  • A fascinating insight into the preparation of various dishes in Qajar Persia, commissioned by Muhammad Quli Khan-e Qajar Quyunlu, Majd al-Sultaneh (d. 1905). He was a grandson of Fath 'Ali Shah Qajar (reg. 1797-1834). In the colophon he is described as 'Commander of Ten Thousand' [Amir-e tuman], an otherwise unknown title.

    The manuscript seems to be the translation of a European, most probably French, cookbook or of more than one book (Parisian, French, Italian, Portuguese and British). Although it starts with soups, fried bread and sauces, the recipes are mixed: for example English [Christmas] pudding comes before a potato dish. Other dishes include 'Queen's Potage soup', which must refer to Queen Victoria. Wherever lard or wine is recommended, the unnamed translator/scribe has suggested alternative ingredients.

    One of the most unusual dishes is barbecued peacock, and its presentation on the table with its neck, head and feathers. The bird should stripped of its skin and feathers very carefully with the neck intact. The inside is taken out, cleaned and pieces of fat rubbed in with salt and pepper placed inside. The bird should be wrapped in grease-proof paper and then put on a skewer and cooked. Another recipe recommends filling the inside with spices and pieces of vegetables and then fried. Once the bird is cooked, it should be put on a platter and then covered with its skin and feathers and the neck propped up. This dish is eaten cold because by the time all the work is done the bird is cold.

    At the time the text was copied no Persian name was known for tomatoes (it is called tomat or 'foreign aubergines'). The first use of the Persian word 'foreign plume' for tomatoes (still used) was used by I'timad al-Saltana in his book al-ma'athir wa al-athar of 1886-87.
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