Friday, April 12, 2013


I fell in love with Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook Plenty , and it soon became the most-used cookbook in my collection.  I was thrilled when I had the chance to review Jerusalem.   Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi is full of the delicious recipes, inspired by their home city.  The photographs are just as delicious as the recipes.

In Jerusalem, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi explore  the vibrant cuisine of their home city—with its diverse Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities. Both men were born in Jerusalem in the same year—Tamimi on the Arab east side and Ottolenghi in the Jewish west. This stunning cookbook offers 120 recipes from their unique cross-cultural perspective, from inventive vegetable dishes to sweet, rich desserts. With five bustling restaurants in London and two stellar cookbooks, Ottolenghi is one of the most respected chefs in the world; in Jerusalem, he and Tamimi have collaborated to produce their most personal cookbook yet.

There are stories behind each dish.  You can smell the spices and feel the history.  I lived in the Middle East for a bit as a child, and I was very excited to see recipes for some of my favorite dishes, including Mutabbaq.  Mutabbaq is a delicious dessert made with filo, ricotta and goat's cheese.  I have not seen it since I was five years old.  I am making it my mission to cook through this book.  Every recipe is special and makes an impact of its own.

The Fried Tomatoes with Garlic are an exquisite companion to the Sabih (a dish that combines that flavors of Iraqi Jews, and Jewish Yemeni).  Sabih really epitomizes the cuisines that make up the region of Jerusalem. It is a hearty dish that used eggplant as its base.  I am usually not a fan of eggplant, but I could eat this every day.

The Couscous with Tomato and Onion is based on a dish that Sami's mother cooked for him as a child.  Like a plate of mashed potatoes or macaroni and sauce, this is all at once comforting and delicious.   Every man, woman and child in my home thoroughly enjoyed it (including my 1 year old nephew).

Jerusalem brings the magic and flavor of an ancient city to life.  It really explores the cultures that call the city home.  These are the recipes of mothers, grandmothers, fathers...which makes them seem more approachable.  Jerusalem is the way you want to cook.  If you love different flavors and middle eastern food, run to get this gem.

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