The recipes are mostly feasible with ingredients present in current Data (though this required some odd flavor profiles at times), apart from some of the Nibenese stuff. Otherwise they were inspired by studies on ancient Roman cooking. It might be fun to add some of these as pre-made ingredients.
Don't try to make this stuff at home.
The Imperial Kitchen, Part 1
The Colovian west is known as a land of simple, hearty food such as cheese, bread, wine and fruit: honest fare fit for soldiers and laborers. While it is less adventurous than the Nibenese kitchen, it would be unwise to dismiss this local cuisine as boorish or simple -- after all, this is the same plain, uncomplicated fare that fed the Legions during their great conquests.
The Colovian way to break the fast is sparse, but invigorating. This porridge is enjoyed with different additions depending on local customs: apple slices, salted cod, dried fish, wine, raw eggs, boiled poppad gourd pulp, and grapes are all common additions, as are spices such as Rihad pepper, muscat, or even some saffron.
A cup of crushed ironrye
A cup of fresh goat milk
A pinch of salt
In a small pot, add the oats, goat milk, honey, and salt together. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat. Allow the porridge to simmer softly until the crushed grains are soft and tender, and the milk has thickened.
Ironrye is a hardy type of grain common in the west. Those familiar with other grains should be mindful that ironrye is tough and generally takes longer to soften. The addition of honey or another sweetener is advisable, as the grain by itself is rather bland.
The dark lycovine is family of the nightshade, but do not let this discourage you: the lycoae of the West Weald are delicious both cold and cooked. Lyco stew is a traditional meal from the city of Sarchal, commonly eaten on rice or bread. Some may object to the use of goat meat: try substituting with mutton.
Two cups of spike rice
A lump of lard
One large onion
A fresh, spicy plena pepper
A flank of goat meat, slightly aged
A cup of Colovian wine
Three lycoae, pureed
A pinch of salt
Some Colovian hard cheese, grated or crushed
Boil the spike rice in water. Season with a pinch of salt. Let the rice boil softly for about half an hour while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Heat the lard in a pan to melt it down. Chop the onion, carrots, garlic, and plena pepper, and cook them until fragrant. Chop the goat meat into small chunks and brown it in the pan for a minute, then add a cup of wine. Once fragrant, add the pureed lycoae. Simmer until the sauce has thickened, about half an hour. Season with more salt. Drain the rice, then add the stew on top. Sprinkle with cheese.
***Durenta with Fish and Eggs
The small red kernels of the durata stalk are a staple of the western seaboard. Durenta is porridge-like dish made from roughly ground, dried durata kernels. While the durata stalk was introduced by the Redguards, this recipe is purely Colovian.
Ground down durata meal can be hard to get outside of Colovia, but many soldiers receive it in care packages from their families back home -- maybe ask around a local garrison, or make it yourself by drying durate kernels in the sun, then powdering them with a mortar and pestle.
Half a cup of powdered durata kernels
A pinch of salt
Some garlic, to taste
A bit of olive oil
A pinch of powdered muscat
A handful of chopped olives
Bring salted water to a boil, then pour in the durata powder while stirring briskly. Once the mixture is smooth and thick, keep it warm for about half an hour. Meanwhile, chop up the dried fish and garlic, then fry them together with some olive oil. Spice with muscat.
Once the gruel is almost done, crack the eggs into the pan with the fish and garlic. While the eggs are cooking, scoop the durenta into bowls, and season liberally with Rihad pepper. Toss the fish and eggs on top, and finish with some fresh olives and perhaps some crushed cheese.
"Grandpa Goat in Garlic Sauce"
A meal of great nostalgic value to anyone who grew up in Colovia, this whimsically named feast is eaten on holidays like Tibedetha or the New Life Festival. Throughout Cyrodiil, goat tends to be the meat of choice for the poor: goats can thrive on nearly anything, from the sparse grasses of the Colovian Highlands to the marshy herbs of the eastern mangroves.
For the goat:
Two heads of garlic
A handful of dried figs
A cup of olive oil
Two cups of Colovian wine
Some nigella seeds
A pinch of salt and freshly ground Rihad pepper
Rib or loin goat chops, well aged
For the garlic sauce:
One head of garlic
A lump of lard
A spoonful of flour
A cup of goat milk
A cup of thick broth
A pinch of salt (preferably Sutchi)
A pinch of Rihad pepper
Some ground fennel seeds
A cup of Colovian hard cheese, grated or crushed
Chop the onions, figs, carrots, and about half of the garlic. Toss the olive oil, nigella, salt, pepper, and one cup of wine in an ample lidded pot or mixing bowl. The other cup of wine is traditionally used in a toast to Saint Potri, who is credited with inventing the dish while stuck in a wine cask.
Chop the goat meat into large pieces, then make small incisions along the flank. Clean the remaining garlic cloves and push them into the incisions. Add the meat to the bowl containing the oil and wine mixture, and make sure to toss it vigorously. Allow the meat to marinate overnight in a cool, dark place.
Now we can make the garlic sauce. Heat lard in a saucepan, then add the crushed and minced garlic. Bake until browned. Add the flour, and quickly mix it until fragrant. Add the goat milk and broth, and stir briskly. Allow the sauce to simmer for a little while. Add salt, Rihad pepper and ground fennel to taste. Finally, stir in the grated cheese until the sauce is smooth. Keep the garlic sauce warm on the side of the fire, while you finish preparing the meat.
Drain the goat chops. Heat more oil in an ample iron skillet, then brown the meat quickly on both sides. Allow the meat to cook through for another couple of minutes. Once the meat is to satisfaction, it can be presented alongside good Colovian bread or cooked spike rice, with garlic sauce on top and a sprinkling of crumbled cheese and garden herbs.
This mulled wine was originally served to warriors before battle. Ancient physicians claimed that it excites the blood and dulls fear -- potentially due to the inclusion of raw mandrake root. Bottled battlewine is now sold in many places, but the best battlewine is still made at home.
A bottle of Colovian wine
A handful of blood-lily petals
A small piece of mandrake root
A couple of anise stars
A pinch of ground cardamon seeds
One shot of Kurst (cherry liquor)
Combine the honey with a cup of water in a pot, then boil until the it has completely dissolved. Grind the blood lily petals and mandrake root together in a mortar. Omit mandrake for a less volatile drink. Reduce the heat and add the anise stars and cardamon alongside the mandrake mixture to the bowl. Cut the apple into parts and add it as well. Simmer until thickened.
Reduce the heat and add the wine. Let it softly simmer (not boil!) for a few hours. Strain and serve in tankards, adding a shot of Kurst at the very last moment (Kurst is a traditional Colovian cherry liquor -- if not available, any sharp, clear liquor will do.)
The Imperial Kitchen, Part 2
If Colovia is known for its simple kitchen, then the Nibenay must by necessity be the land of extravagance. There is little need for me to repeat stories of the grand Heartlands cuisine, of courtly decadence, rare ingredients, and refined master-chefs with elaborate concoctions and deadly rivalries.
But the average Nibenean does not feast on sugared quail and pomegranate wine. Like anywhere, the common people have their own local flavors and delights, sourced in their rice fields and riverlands. It is this quaint kitchen which interests us most.
***Pauper's Poppad Marrow
The poppad gourd grows plentiful in the eastern Heartlands, especially in the foggy grasslands surrounding the eponymous Lake Poppad. Local rice-farmers, too poor to afford a decent cauldron, hang these hardy, fireproof gourds above a fire to cook the white, soft pulp inside, which is then scooped out over rice.
Memories of this dish were brought to the Imperial City by laborers, who sometimes longed for a taste of the simpler, less complicated life they led back home. In time, this led to the dish described below, which is a staple of the Imperial City's taverns.
One poppad gourd
A lump of lard
A pinch of salt
A handful of figs, fresh or dried
Some nuts or dried seeds
Pinches of grated muscat, cardamon, curcuma powder and Rihad pepper
A bit of honey
Some olive oil
A splash of mokre
A cup of sour wine
Peel and slice the poppad gourd and boil it for about half an hour. Arrange the slices in a pot or baking dish alongside chopped carrots and onion, then sprinkle with a little salt.
Take the figs and add them in a mortar and pestle with the nuts or dried seeds (if using dried figs, soak them in a little wine first). Mash into a paste. Add the spices and mix, then add the honey, mokre (a type of fish sauce, see below), wine, and stir into a smooth mixture.
Poor the mixture over the poppad slices, cover with a lid, and place in a heated oven until the sauce is warm and bubbling.
Note: keep the Poppad seeds and toast them for a nice snack.
A signature dish of the Valley of Altars. Anyone seeking to reproduce this recipe at home should first ensure themselves that the local variety of land snails are as edible as those of the southern Nibenay. Much like the Colovians and their garlicked goat, this recipe is heavy with garlic and cheese -- a preference which transcends the Imperial cultural divide. For those seeking authenticity, goat cheese from Buccita is widely recognized as the superior choice.
A heads of garlic
Crushed or grated hard goat cheese
Some St. Jahn's Wort flowers (or other garden herbs)
A pinch of coarse salt
Some olive oil and vinegar
A handful of siris snails (or equivalent)
Ground the garlic with salt in a mortal until reduced to a paste. Add the cheese and the finely chopped herbs. Add the olive oil and vinegar, then work the mixture together until it is a smooth paste. Let it rest.
Next, prepare the snails (in the Nibenay, the siris snail with blue and brown stripes is the canon choice). Remove the snails from their shells using a hook, then boil them in water for about fifteen minutes. Cover the snails with a layer of garlic paste, then stuff them back into their shells and seal up the entrance with more of the paste. Once all shells are prepared, grill them over a fire until fragrant (make sure not the heat them too much, lest the shells pop).
Through garlicked snails were once a delicacy enjoyed only by the Potentate courts, they are now common street food, and often eaten cold as a snack.
This dish is eaten all along the Niben, which is home to a kind of freshwater prawn endemic to the river and surrounding ricelands.
A handful of raw, peeled prawns
A splash of olive oil
Two spoons of mokre
A spoon of liquid honey
A pinch of curcuma powder
Freshly ground Rihad pepper
A cup of rice.
Add the olive oil, mokre and honey in a pan, then add the prawns. Gently bake the prawns in the mixture until they are tender. Remove the prawns from the pan.
Boil the rice in a pot. Meanwhile, continue to reduce the honey sauce until it has become thickened. Add the curcuma and pepper, then pour the glaze over the prawns. Serve the prawns over a bowl of warm rice.
Rice is a staple of the central valleys, but Imperials maintain several varieties for different purposes. Spike rice is a hardy variety common to Colovia, where it can grow in dry fields. Common white rice is grown and eaten nearly anywhere, but is sometimes seen as a commoner's choice. Red rice is grown only in the tinmi soil of the Heartlands, and is consider the superior type: the Emperor and his court dine exclusively on red rice, and to give a dignitary anything less is considered an affront.
Cyrodiilic brandy is known across the Empire as the subject of songs and tarriffs. Despite being made with Colovian wines (of a lesser variety), the great distilleries creating this desirable product are all located in the Imperial City and its surroundings.
As most brandy is destined for export, common Imperials rarely enjoy the taste of true Cyrodiilic brandy. Most make do with cut brandy (mixed with mori and water) or pomace brandy (made from a fermented detritus of the winemaking process, often in illegal stills).
While imbibing these products is inadvisable, they (alongside cheaper provincial brandies) lend themselves well to the making of brandied plums, a true Heartlands treat.
A jar-full of plums
A pinch of dried hibiscus flowers
Two cups of honey
A pinch of salt
Two cups of brandy
Clean and stem the plums, then pack them into a clean, sturdy jar, cutting up and removing the pit of about half the plums. Add the hibiscus.
Bring the honey, salt, and a cup of water to a boil in a saucepan. Simmer until it becomes a syrup. Let the syrup cool, then add the brandy and poor the liquid into the jar of plums, making sure it is filled to the brim. Make sure the jar is sealed tight, then allow it to rest for about five days.
Of course, plums made with real Cyrodiilic brandy are vastly superior, but such delicacies are rarely consumed outside of noble circles.
A fermented fish sauce enjoyed by both rich and poor: the courtly master-chefs mix it with wine, vinegar, pepper, and olive oil to create a peerless marinade, while the poor fishermen of the central valleys often finish their day with little more than a bowl of rice flavored with mokre.
A jarful of fish or crab intestines (most fishmongers are happy to part with these)
A bottle of vinegar
A bottle of mori (rice beer)
A cup of salt
A tankard of salt water
Special ingredients to taste
A cup of rice
Take the fish and crab guts, chop them up and throw them into a large pot or vessel. Add vinegar, rice beer, and copious amounts of salt. Leave the mixture to rest for a day and a night, then fill whatever space is left in the pot with the salt water. Seal the top of the pot tightly with wax or cords, then leave it to ferment for two months (Nibenese peasants leave the pots hanging on trees or on the eaves of their houses).
Powder dry rice using a mortar, then roast this powder in a pan or skillet. Open the jar and mix the half-fermented mokre with the roasted rice powder, along with any special spices you wish to include. Seal the pot again for one more month, until the fermentation is finished.
Mokre is made with a wide variety of spices, depending on the region. Common additions are garlic, roasted Rihad pepper, fennel seeds, plena pepper, anise, and caraway seeds. Some Nibenese spike their mokre with drugs like thyrwort, moon sugar, or sursum -- always think twice before accepting a dinner invitation in the Nibenay.