Another day and yet another cookbook endorsed with a gushing front cover quote from Yotam Ottolenghi, how does he find the time to read so many?
Well never mind the log-rolling, this is indeed a very good book, which actually dates from 2013 before the mini craze for Middle Eastern cooking got off the blocks. This is the paperback version from the woman who has championed this cooking through her blog Dirty Kitchen Secrets for over ten years. She was also once Miss Lebanon, so also she has the looks that never hinder a career in food.
I personally love Middle Eastern cooking, although I can live without the great hunks of meat and I am not talking about Mr. Lebanon. For me the vegetable and mezze dishes win out over skewers of lamb.
This a book that combines recipes and culture, dishes learnt from her grandmother and stories from her parents and aunts and blend classic and contemporary to great effect for plenty of tempting Lebanese dishes as well as Moroccan and Persian too.
So we have Moroccan Fish Tagine with Preserved Lemons, Lebanese Lamb Shanks with Butterbeans and Tomatoes and a Persian Chicken, Walnut and Pomegranate Stew. An Egyptian Spiced Bread Pudding looks very interesting.
Smaller dishes are where many people fall in love with Middle Eastern food and here we have Tuna Tartare with Chermoula and Sumac-Scented Chicken Parcels and Cardamom-Scented Profiteroles and Ma’amoul Shortbread Cookies.
Vegetarians are never disappointed in Middle Eastern restaurants and dishes here such as smoky aubergine and split pea stew and mixed bean and herb noodle soup are surprising finds and sure to please. While fish eaters can feast on monkfish tagine with chermoula.
This is a book to excite the senses with vibrant colours, exotic spices, the waft of warm air and the frantic sound of busy market places.