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gfron1

Middle Eastern Cookbooks

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I haven't seen much mention of Middle Eastern cookbooks. I know that's a pretty wide range of foods, but I'm thinking Moroccan, North African, Turkish, etc. Anybody have books that they'd like to recommend?

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I have just today received a copy of Diana Henry's 'Crazy Water Pickled Lemons' which has some fantastic looking recipes.

I particularly like the look of the recipe for 'Jewelled Persian Rice' that has rose petals, saffron, pitsachio, almond, warm spices orange, carrot...

I have several books by Arto der Haroutunian all of which are good.

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I love Claudia Rhoden's New Book of Middle Eastern Food. But these days I especially love Claudia Rhoden's Arabesque. It is food confined to Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon. A delightful book!

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IThis is my favorite cookbook, bar none. I'm Syrian, so it is filled with my childhood favorites, comfort food, I suppose it is called. Deal Delights! The proceeds go to various charities, most deal with feeding people, and that's a good thing!

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Two absolutely gorgeous books that we have recently gotten in the store, neither which I have yet cooked out of, but that are full of attractive recipes: Saha by Gregg & Lucy Malouf and Aromas of Aleppo by Poopa Dweck. Both make me salivate looking at the entries.

Then I would second all Claudia Roden: New Book of Middle Eastern Food, Arabesque, The Book of Jewish Food

And not to be overlooked are Spice by Ana Sortun and Paula Wolfert's Couscous and The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean. I also find interesting things in Nancy Harmon Jenkins' Mediterranean Diet Cookbook (unfortunate name for a great book).

Some of my all time favorite foods, a cuisine that Portland, Maine is sorely lacking.

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To echo those aforementioned - Claudia Roden's New Book of Middle Eastern Food is a delight. Arto der Haroutunian's Middle Eastern Cookery has not only a wide array of recipes but many informative bits of history, anecdotes, and fables -- "Leek is a remedy for snakebite".

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A few others:

From the Land of Figs and Olives: Over 300 delicious and unusual recipes from the Middle East and Africa by Habeeb Salloum and James Peters

From Tapas to Meze: First courses from teh Mediterranean shores of Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa by Joanne Weir (I've used this book quite often with great success.)

and another great Wolfert book:

Mediterranean Grains and Greens: A Book of Savory, Sun-Drenched Recipes by Paula Wolfert

Does anyone have any comments on Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean by Ana Sortun?

The book by the chef at Oleana in Cambridge came out a few years ago and sounds very interesting. I know people that have great meals there and the dishes sound fabulous. As far as I understand, it's not based on traditional dishes but rather traditional flavors from the region.


Edited by ludja (log)

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I will add my voice to the chorus of approval for Claudia Roden's books. All three of those mentioned are great reads, and I think Roden has to be considered the "gold standard" within the field. I would also recommend Anissa Helou (Lebanese), Nevin Halici (Turkish), and Najmieh Batmanglij (Persian).

If you want to follow the Turkish and Persian influences farther afield, Anya von Bremzen's "Please to the Table" has a lot of Central Asian recipes in it.

Pastryelf, if you ever get up to New Brunswick let me know and we'll get together and binge out on Middle Eastern food.

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Add me to those that recognise the authority of Claudia Roden.

And I'd like to add to the list of suggestions the books by Sam and Sam Clark of the London restaurant "Moro" :

Moro: the cookbook {based on the restaurant's then offerings}

Casa Moro {more towards everyday domestic dishes}

Moro East {due imminently and said to involve home growing (and hence preparation) of food of an Eastern Mediterranean origin}

The central theme of their restaurant has been the Moorish aspect of Spanish cuisine, and its relationship with its Muslim Mediterranean heritage.

Very well worth a look.

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I'd like to second the Moro offerings. I find that their recipes always works very well.

Another book that I highly recommend is A Mediterranean Feast bu Clifford Wright. In addition to a lot of good recipes, this book provides an excellent read on the historical development of the cuisines around the Mediterranean sea and also contains a lot of good recipes.

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I'll go along with all the Wolfert and Roden books, Clifford Wright as well, and would like to add:

Joyce Goldstein's The Mediterranean Kitchen and

Colman Andrews' Flavors of the Riviera, Discovering Real Mediterranean Cooking

as two of my favorites.

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I have Cooking Moroccan by Tess Mallos and the several recipes I have prepared have been very good. The cookies and pastries - especially the little "horns" filled with almond - are very nice. I recently made the sweet couscous because it is a favorite of one of my friends who was coming for dinner.

I have all of Paula Wolfert's books - I have been cooking from Couscous and etc., since it was first published.

I also have Claudia Rosen's books and have cooked from them also. I see nothing wrong with compiling recipes from cooks in a region, many, many cookbook authors have done the same and quite successfully.

I also have Cooking at the Kasbah and like it very much.

I have several more but can't recall the titles or the authors at the moment. I do have an older cookbook by Tess Mallos - can't recall the title of that one either.

I recently got Dining on the Nile - an Egyptian cookbook. It has stories as well as recipes. I only have two other Egyptian cookbooks, one I bought about a year ago, My Grandmother's Kitchen, which has a ton of great recipes and written by an Egyptian. The other is a much older book, written by an English author who apparently didn't do enough editing because many recipes were missing ingredients in the lists but that were called for in the directions and several called for ingredients that I couldn't find anywhere and could find no reference to them. Both of these recently published books are great, both as cookbooks and for the history as well as the social food traditions.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

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I too have Claudia Roden's New Book of Middle Eastern Food. Although I like some of the recipes, I haven't had as much success with them as with Couscous and other Good Food from Morocco by Paula Wolfert. That's a favorite-favorite, so to speak. I also enjoy her Slow Mediterranean Kitchen.

Other favorites, long-standing and well-worn, include:

The Sultan's Kitchen, by Ozcan Ozan

Cooking at the Kasbah, by Kitty Morse

Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and a History of the Iraqi Cuisine, by Nawal Nasrallah

Flavors of Egypt: from City and Country Kitchens, by Susan Torgerson

Mediterranean Street Foods, by Anissa Helou.

I have over a dozen cookbooks featuring Middle Eastern cuisine. It's difficult to pick more "favorites" but there are some fine books among them. I'll be glad to list the lot if someone asks. I just today received my copies of My Grandmother's Egyptian Kitchen (Andie mentioned it above) and Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking, and I'm pretty excited to try them.

Thanks for starting this thread, gfron!

Edited to add: I'd be remiss if I didn't mention

The Arab Table, by May B. Sisou.


Edited by Smithy (log)

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For Turkish food, I like The Art of Turkish Cooking by Neset Eren.

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and for Persian/Iranian Najmieh Batmanglij's New Food of Life is excellent. Mmm Koresh!

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i have tess mallos' the complete middle east cookbook. it's big and heavy, but it rocks.

i also have food for the vegetarian: traditional lebanese recipes and the few things i've made out of that have been good as well, although it does have the single least appetizing picture i've ever seen in a cookbook.

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The three best Middle Eastern cookbooks in terms only of how well the recipes work are, I believe, Nahda S. Salah, One Thousand and One Delights: Authentic Home Cooking of the Middle East, Tess Mallos, The Complete Middle East Cookbook. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979, and Sima OsmanYassine and Sadouf Kamal. Middle Eastern Cuisine. Beirut: Dar el-ilm lil-Malayin, 1984.

In terms over overall perspective undoubtedly Roden. Remember that North Africa is not the Middle East but Turkey is.

I was once asked by my publisher to write a comprehensive Middle East cookbook in the category of Mediterranean Feast and I told them it was too big of a project. But it's there waiting to be written. Incidentaly, as good as Roden's book is, I don't consider it to be comprehensive

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...  Remember that North Africa is not the Middle East but Turkey is.

...

Politically and geographically, you do have a point. (Even though Turkey would rather be seen as part of Europe, and wants admission to the EU...)

However, in terms of cuisine, Moroccan and Lebanese, for example, seem to be quite generally related, and there are of course connections between Lebanese and Turkish, and Moroccan and Moorish Spanish...

My point is that modern political/geographical boundaries and thus names don't always serve well to understand the delineations of regional cuisine. And the cooking being discussed here is principally the cooking of the historically muslim-influenced parts of the Mediterranean region, which crops up not only in parts of the Balkans but also even in Sicily, Malta and (whisper it) can be detected in some Greek traditions - the coffee for one. But it only shows up in France through the much more recent North African ex-colonial immigrant connections... hence, I'd suggest, its influence being seen in street food and not in haute cuisine.

Incidentally, its not that long ago that the Balkans and Eastern Mediterranean would have been called the "Near East", while to travel further (by boat) beyond (I'd propose) Suez, would take you to the "Middle East" - which would include the Persian Gulf, and seemed to extend to about Calcutta or Dhaka. Beyond that, Rangoon and Singapore would have been in the "Far East".

Where has that useful designation, the "Near East", gone in this age of air travel? :smile:

A final, unrelated point: one of the early modern books on this regional cuisine was the 1950's "Fes vu par sa cuisine" (Fez, seen through its cooking) by Mme Zette Guinaudeau. Its available quite cheaply in paperback english translation as "Traditional Moroccan Cooking: Recipes from Fez". Its cited (IIRC) by both Wolfert and Roden - classic, ever so authentic, and interesting (if not terribly useful!)


Edited by dougal (log)

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I suppose that my opinion of what constitutes the "Middle East" as a culinary is a rather loose definition and not at all tied to any particular political or socioeconomic region.

(In my opinion culinary traditions should not be bound by walls, fences or ideoligies, but that's just me.)

In the cookbooks that I have grouped together are cookbooks from the Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa and Egypt, Turkey, Albania, the Arab states, etc.

i have tess mallos' the complete middle east cookbook.  it's big and heavy, but it rocks. 

i also have food for the vegetarian: traditional lebanese recipes and the few things i've made out of that have been good as well, although it does have the single least appetizing picture i've ever seen in a cookbook.

That's the other Tess Mallos cookbook I mentioned in my earlier post.

Another one I noted but with incomplete title, and corrected by Smithy, which I appreciate is My Egyptian Grandmother's Kitchen by Magda Mehdawy.

It has a very large section on sweets and desserts, including some I have not seen in other cookbooks.

Also some wonderful jams - the yellow date jam is incredible.

It also includes chapters with drinks, pickles and some wonderful salads - I am especially partial to the cauliflower salad.

I found that I do have Diana Henry's Crazy Water Pickled Lemons, mentioned by lapin d'or, and find that I have tried several recipes and made little notes in the margins - some quite illegible. :blink:

I also have Tess Mallos' Middle Eastern Home Cooking and The Arab Table by May Bsisu, which includes some exceptional photographs.

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A final, unrelated point: one of the early modern books on this regional cuisine was the 1950's "Fes vu par sa cuisine" (Fez, seen through its cooking) by Mme Zette Guinaudeau. Its available quite cheaply in paperback english translation as "Traditional Moroccan Cooking: Recipes from Fez". Its cited (IIRC) by both Wolfert and Roden - classic, ever so authentic, and interesting (if not terribly useful!)

Why not "useful" the recipes are well written and straightforward.

Personally I have a great deal of difficulty with the idea of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia as the "Middle East", it is a loose definition at best, but I'm pretty sure that these North African countries have never been part of it and their food traditions are sufficiently different to group them seperately. And I'm note sure that shared culinary traditions are a good basis to define "Middle Eastern" cuisine either. However, I am damn sure that a food website is not the place to debate this either.

So in the spirit of the original question, some cookbooks that I use on the foods of the Near- and Middle-East, North Africa, non-European Mediterranean region and even the Empire d'Orient if you like are:

Claudia Roden's New Book of Middle Eastern Food

Claudia Roden's Arabesque

Margaret Shaida's The Legendary Cuisine of Persia

Ozcan Ozan's The Sultans Kitchen

Ghillie and Jonathan Basan's Classic Turkish Cookery

Greg Malouf's Arabesque

Anissa Helou's Lebanese Cuisine

Paula Wolfert's Good Food from Morocco

Nawal Nasrallah's Delights from the Garden of Eden

Mme Zette Guinaudeau's Traditional Moroccan Cooking: Recipes from Fez

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I wanted to thank all of you for these suggestions. I thought there would be one or two books held out as the best, but it looks like there are quite a few, so thanks!

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I suppose that my opinion of what constitutes the "Middle East" as a culinary is a rather loose definition and not at all tied to any particular political or socioeconomic region. 

(In my opinion culinary traditions should not be bound by walls, fences or ideoligies, but that's just me.)

In the cookbooks that I have grouped together are cookbooks from the Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa and Egypt, Turkey, Albania, the Arab states, etc.

...

That's the other Tess Mallos cookbook I mentioned in my earlier post. 

Another one I noted but with incomplete title, and corrected by Smithy, which I appreciate is   My Egyptian Grandmother's Kitchen by Magda Mehdawy.

It has a very large section on sweets and desserts, including some I have not seen in other cookbooks.

Also some wonderful jams - the yellow date jam is incredible.

It also includes chapters with drinks, pickles and some wonderful salads - I am especially partial to the cauliflower salad.

...

I also have Tess Mallos' Middle Eastern Home Cooking and The Arab Table by May Bsisu, which includes some exceptional photographs.

I'm with you on the unimportance of political boundaries with regard to cuisine. (Call me a cockeyed optimist, or a wild idealist, but I love seeing that some things can be shared without conflict.) However, I'm glad Archestratus noted some actual distinctions above. Most of my friends have as vague a concept of "Middle Eastern" food as I, but I'd hate to confuse someone who would otherwise know better. I'm also glad to know what happened to "The Near East". My mother used to use that term, and I've been wondering lately where it got to.

Speaking of corrections, I'm glad you mentioned The Arab Table. By the time I realized I'd misspelled Ms. Bsisu's name, it was too late to edit my post.

This topic is really turning up some interesting-sounding books. There are some I hadn't heard of that I'm looking forward to trying, even as my bookshelves groan under my new acquisitions. You've given me some recommendations above for where to start with the Egyptian book. I've eyeballed the cauliflower salad, but haven't tried it yet.


Edited by Smithy (log)

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