Syrian was the celebrated Moabia, his father was one of Mohammed’s most fanatical enemies, but he embraced Islamism. As leader of a large fleet landed in Cyprus in 625, which he overtook and used as a base for raids in the Aegean Sea. He terrorized Crete and looted Rhodes, from which he even took pieces of the famous Colossus, selling it as scrap iron. He continued in Kos and Chios, until his fleet was intercepted by Byzantine fire outside Constantinople. These were the first of an endless series of Arab raids. Soon all sea trade in the eastern Mediterranean passed entirely into their hands. It was them who supplied Europe with the valuable commodities of the East, including mastiha. Meanwhile the Arabs themselves consumed substantial quantities. Mastiha was a favorite pleasure. Even today, saliq, a rice porridge cooked with meat and flavored with cardamom and mastiha, is a classic Saudi Arabian dish. It is accompanied by the traditional Arab salad of onion, celery and hot pepper, finely chopped and seasoned with salt and lemon juice.

The first Lokum

Until the mid-18th century, sweeteners used in the sherbets and sweets of the sultans and their harems were primarily honey and wine must. It is said that when sugar first arrived in Constantinople from the New World, the sultan invited the most celebrated confectioners in the empire to create the perfect sweet. One of chefs combined sugar syrup, pistachios and mastiha, and made the first lokum. The sultan was so delighted that he immediately made him head confectioner of the palace. Lokum were served with coffee at the end of the meal. Europeans who became acquainted with lokum in Constantinople named it “Turkish Delight.”


Recipe for the Iraqi disk tuffahiya (al-Baghdadi): Cut a piece of fat meat into cubes. Fry with a little salt and coriander. Dice an onion and add along with mastiha, pepper, cinnamon, ginger and a little mint. Next pulverize a tart apple in a mortar and pour the juice into the meat mixture. Add blanched almonds and stir over a slow fire until done.

Bouza al habib

Bouza al habib is a popular Lebanese desert of milk, mastiha, salep and rosewater.

In 17th century in Russia

In 17th century in Russia, the distillers of vodka used to flavor their product with various substances. One version, designated for the salons of nobility, was vodka with mastiha.

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