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|Region or state||Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia, Horn of Africa|
|Main ingredients||wheat flour, butter or honey|
Asida (Arabic: عصيدة, romanized: ‘aṣīdah) is a dish with origins from Arabia, made of a cooked wheat flour lump of dough, sometimes with added butter or honey. Similar in texture to gruel, it is eaten in many North African and Middle Eastern countries. This dish was adopted by the Oromo region in Ethiopia what they call Marca. It is considered one of the most popular desserts and traditional dishes in many Arab countries. Asida is particularly popular in Yemen, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Indonesia. As most traditional foods of these countries, 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 other traditional ceremonies, for example accompanying the birth of child, such as the ‘aqīqah, the cutting of the hair of a newborn seven days after birth.
A simple, yet rich dish, often eaten without other complementary dishes, it is traditionally served at breakfast and is also given to women in labor.
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). A recipe for asida was also mentioned in an anonymous 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 a hot chili pepper paste (harissa). The latter is more common later in the day and the former earlier. Asida is also commonly consumed with carob syrup or date syrup in southern parts of Tunisia.
On 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 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 a 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 to boil hot and eaten with hands or spoons. Aseed is eaten particularly at lunchtime and during Ramadan.
The Ethiopian version of this is called Genfo in Amharic and in Oromo, it is called Marca. It is served with Ethiopian ghee called dhadhaa or niter kibbeh, bebere (an ethiopian spice mix) or it is served with yogurt.
- Famous Everyday Dishes from the Medieval Arab World
- Definition of عصيدة (in Arabic). www.almaany.com.
- 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. ISBN 9789047423058. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
- Al‑Warrāq, Ibn Sayyār; Nasrallah, Nawal (26 November 2007). annals of the caliphs' kitchens: ibn sayyār al-warrāq's tenth-century baghdadi cookbook. books. ISBN 978-9004158672. 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. ISBN 9789047423058. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
- Barnard, Hans (2008-07-04), Eastern desert ware : traces of the inhabitants of the eastern desert in Egypt and Sudan during the 4th-6th centuries CE, Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University, hdl:1887/12929
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