Have you ever been to Jerusalem? It’s an amazing city full of diversity and amazing sights, scenes, sounds and smells. Being Jewish I’ve been a few times and even though it’s the original ‘old city’ it always seems different each time I go. I have really, really fond memories of Jerusalem from when I went there with my family for the first time when I was 15 to when I was traveling with Tim during our gap year. When I first picked up this book all those memories came flooding back.Flicking through the pages has made me desperate to go back…. very soon!
The authors of this book are Yotam Ottolenghi who is from Jewish West side of Jerusalem and Sami Tamimi who’s from the Muslim West. They grew up there as kids and didn’t meet until years later in London when they set up the Ottolenghi deli (and there’s also a now) The cultural influence of this great city has such an impact on their recipes that this book is literally bursting with flavor.
As well as all the great recipes here there are tons of atmospheric photos of markets and food sellers. Piles and piles of fresh fruits and vegetable. I love the shot of the hand written sign above a Falafel shop that reads in English and Arabic ‘I HAVE GOOD FALAFEL’ I mean say it like it is or what? It’s touches like this that make this book so beautiful. There’s tons of who, what, where and why for each section and mentions of both Jewish and Muslim traditions. I love that. The fact that these recipes and food combinations have been handed down over generations, carried on through families.
So what will you find inside this book?
In a word. EVERYTHING. If you’re vegetarian then it’s a must. If you’re a meat lover, then it’s a must. In fact if you like flavor then this book is a must!
Jerusalem food, The passion in the air, The recipes, A comment about ownership & history
At home Tim and I make what we call Israeli salad. It’s basically tomatoes, cucumber and onion all chopped up into very small cubes, drenched in olive oil, with a touch of salt and pepper all mixed up. It’s amazingly simple and totally delicious. If you take this kind of simplistic ‘throw it all together’ approach that’s what you get in this chapter, but so much more sophisticated. It’s all about knowing what to put together and boy do these guys do it well! Roasted sweet potato and fresh figs, Broad bean Kuku, even the simple mixed bean salad made my mouth water.
This is one big, jam packed section that I would eat from every evening. It’s also worth mentioning the Latkes. Who can resist a Latke?
PULSES & GRAINS
My family went to Israel for our first holiday abroad when my brother had his bar mitzvah. One of the big memories from the holiday (apart from my brother going down to breakfast first thing in the morning and then again for second breakfast when everyone else got up) was that every street corner had a falafel stand on it. I had falafel at practically every stand! I got completely addicted to them. Why am I telling you this? Well, guess what the first recipe in this chapter is? Yep. Falafel!
Whether it’s chicpeas, rice, pasta or couscous there’ s plenty of choice in this chapter. The thing about this book is that it has an amazing array of herbs and spices to flavor the most basic of foods. The Basmati & wild rice with chickpeas, currants & herbs looks amazing. The hummus…. don’t get me started on the hummus, and couscous with tomato and onion are so easy to make. Some I could eat as a snack (ie devour when no one is looking) but I am sure they are meant to be shared!
I love the soup chapter as it’s got so many unusual flavors. Who else could come up with burnt aubergine & mograbieh soup? (is a type of large couscous by the way) there’s a meatball soup, pistachio soup and a seafood and fennel soup (slightly not Kosher but Tim loved the look of this) but the best soup has to be the proper Clear Chicken soup with knaidlach (aka Jewish Penicillin) Knaidlach are like dumplings and when we were little we nick named them knaidlebums and the name has stuck ever since. This soup is very easy to make and really does make you feel better when you are ill. I swear by it!
No, not a sign that you have eaten too much food from this book and need to loosen your belt buckle, this is all about stuffed foods and literally anything goes. I didn’t know you could stuff a carrot! I thought it was all about cabbage leaves! Not in this book. How does Lamb-stuffed quince with pomegranate & coriander grab you? Or how about stuffed onions, stuffed Romano peppers or stuffed potatoes?
There are lots of easy recipes here that you can pop in the oven and leave to enhance. Roasted chicken with clementines and arak is on my to do list (especially for our next dinner party!) If you like chicken then there’s definitely something here for you. The meatball and Kofta b’siniyah look mouthwateringly good as does the lamb shwarma.
We eat a lot of fish in our house and as I’m no cook (Tim’s the cook. I can bake!) so it’s really good to get some fresh flavour ideas on our regular favs. Pan fried sea bream with harissa & rose, cod cakes in tomato sauce, Marinated sweet and sour fish, I could go on and on.
I’m addicted to eggs. There I said it. I love them and could eat them every day (in fact I nearly do) so when I saw this red pepper & baked egg galette I knew it was love at first sight. I mean what’s not to love? puff pastry+ peppers +topped with a perfect egg! This chapter is all about the mouthwatering flavour of herb pies and Burekas. Nom, nom, nom!
SWEETS & DESSERTS
The first page in this chapter opens with Sweet filo cigars with all the sweet honey just oozing out, then moves swiftly onto sweet cheese. I love savory and sweet together and the Mutabbaq looks so mouthwatering. There’s also recipes for cakes, rice pudding, crumble, spice cookies (which I have the recipe for and will be sharing with you tomorrow) as well as yeasted cakes.
It’s really good to be given so many great condiment recipes. I’ve always wanted to add tahini sauce to my falafel and now I can. There are also yoghurt with cucumber recipes as well as countless picked options.
So in all, I love this book. It seems so perfect for this time of year when it’s cold and windy outside and you want a warm and full flavour dish to keep you toasty and satisfied on the inside.
It would definitely make great Christmas/Channuka present. Smiles all round I think.
You can buy it on Amazon.com by clicking on the link here- Jerusalem– or on book image below