Cooking from the Middle East and North Africa

A (very) old friend is visiting Sydney from Tokyo for ten days. He gave me a copy of “Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middle East and North Africa” by Habeeb Salloum (2002). As the blurb notes: “Originally the food of peasants, too poor for meat, vegetarian cooking in the Middle East developed over thousands of years into a culinary art form influenced both by trade and invasion.” It is, therefore, significant as the food of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, and Hermits and Monks.
classic vegetarian cooking
“Food and travel writer Salloum (“From the Land of Figs and Olives”) notes in his introduction that Middle Eastern and northern African populations have relied on a vegetarian diet since the beginning of civilization, despite the lamb and chicken dishes that may spring to the mind of anyone with a nodding acquaintance (meat is a rarity often reserved for special occasions). Setting the record straight with over 300 vegetarian dishes, Salloum’s culinary tour gives readers the chance to eat like the locals do. While there are plenty of recipes utilizing common ingredients (30 chickpea recipes, 19 eggplant dishes and a dozen featuring dates), Salloum also offers unusual combinations such as Pomegranate and Mushroom Soup and Tumeric-Flavored Eggs, using garlic, cilantro and tomato in addition to the subtle, noble spice (“much in demand at birth, marriage, and death ceremonies). Pancakes are stuffed with a sweetened and spiced ricotta cheese or a walnut, cinnamon and sugar filling, then cooked and dipped in Qater, a simple syrup infused with orange flower water and lemon juice. Including the Arabic names for every dish and boasting recipes for homemade yogurt, multiple takes on falafel and a multitude of stews and soups, most of which come together in minutes, Salloum’s collection will be welcome, illuminating resource for vegetarians and omnivores alike.”
[Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/1566563984 ]

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