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Apulian Cooking
Ciceri e tria
(pasta and chickpeas)
It is a traditional Salento dish, but has Arabian/Sicilian origins.
The finishing touch that adds special flavor comes from frying a small amount of pasta separately and mixing it with the rest just before serving
by Dario Ersetti
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Ciceri e tria, a delicious, healthy dish. Photo by Dario Ersetti

      A dish with Arabian/Sicilian roots, it has become a symbol of Salento.

      Throughout the Middle East, hummus, a puree of chickpeas with tahini (a salty sesame seed paste, like Nutella), is eaten together with fried pasta that is similar to Italian “angel hair” pasta.

      The first Sicilian collocation of “tria” is owed to Abu Abdullah Muhammad al-Idrisi al-Qurtubi al-Hasani al-Sabti, better known as al-Idrisi, the Arab geographer who designed the map of the world on behalf of King Roger II of Sicily. He was also given the task of studying Sicilian traditions and the customs of its people, which were then collected in Kitab-Rugiar (The Book of Roger) in 1154.

      And it was in this book that the production of thin Sicilian spaghetti, called tria in Sicilian dialect and itryah in Arabic, was first mentioned. About a century before this, we have, however, an illustration of itryah, noted in an illuminated manuscript written by an Iraqi doctor of Christian faith, Abu al-Hasan al-Mukhtar ibn ‘Abdun (transliterated as Ububchasym de Baldach), who worked in Baghdad in the mid-eleventh century. Among the copies of his manuscript Tacuina Sanitatis, the most famous are in Vienna, Paris and Rome (Casanatense Library, under the name of Theatrum Sanitatis).

 

The recipe

 

4 servings:

 

- 200 g of whole wheat semolina flour

- 300 g of chickpeas

- 1 carrot

- 1 stalk of celery

- 1 clove of garlic

- 1 onion (or two scallions)

- 3 tomatoes

- a sprig of rosemary

- extra virgin olive oil

- salt

 

 

      Soak the chickpeas in water overnight. Drain, rinse and put them in a (preferably earthenware) pot together with the vegetables and add enough water to make a rather thin soup. Towards the end of cooking, remove the garlic, crush (or remove) the celery and carrot and add salt.

      While the soup is cooking, prepare the pasta in the usual way with flour, water and a pinch of salt. Knead well, let the dough rest covered with a damp cloth, then roll out the dough and cut to form noodles.

      Take about one-third of these noodles and fry them in abundant oil, drain and salt lightly. The remaining noodles are boiled in the pot with the chickpeas.

      When serving the soup, add the fried noodles, mix, and drizzle with a little oil.

 

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