Maria Hoyle sam­ples the lat­est must-reads for the savvy cook

Dish - - BOOKS -


Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley

Ebury Press, $60

We may not be able to travel far just now, but a flick through Falastin is the next best thing. This beau­ti­ful book whisks you straight to the Mid­dle East, no stopover re­quired. Falastin is equal parts recipe col­lec­tion – over 110 of them – and sto­ry­book. The ti­tle refers to that small ter­ri­tory at the east­ern­most cor­ner of the Mediter­ranean that we know as Pales­tine. But with mil­lions of Pales­tini­ans scat­tered over the globe, Falastin is also a love let­ter to their shared cul­ture, lan­guage, his­tory and iden­tity. Au­thor and chef Sami Tamimi spent his child­hood in Pales­tine, and is the co-founder of Yo­tam Ot­tolenghi’s iconic Lon­don din­ing spot. Co-au­thor Tara Wigley trained at the Bal­ly­maloe Cook­ery School in Ire­land and tested recipes with Yo­tam in his Lon­don flat be­fore be­com­ing his writ­ing col­lab­o­ra­tor. Th­ese stel­lar cre­den­tials aside, you know within sec­onds of leaf­ing through Falastin that you want to in­vite its flavours into your kitchen. Colour­ful sal­ads, silky soups, creamy feta, dishes fra­grant with za’atar, lemon and co­rian­der; punc­tu­ated with gar­lic, su­mac and chilli; tex­tured with pis­ta­chios and pine nuts. The Win­ter Tab­bouleh with Blood Orange Dress­ing is a vi­brant ed­i­ble collage that will bring cheer to the bleak­est of days; the Lentils with Tahini and Crispy Onion is nutty, creamy and whole­some; the na­tional dish of Chicken Musakhan is the ul­ti­mate shar­ing food, to be torn with your hands and sand­wiched with flat­bread. Recipes that have been handed down through gen­er­a­tions, th­ese are mostly ac­ces­si­ble for the home cook.

Yo­tam’s fore­word ac­knowl­edges this was a com­pli­cated en­ter­prise – “po­lit­i­cally, since we had to put aside the harsh re­al­ity of the oc­cu­pa­tion of the West Bank”. But the political con­text is hard to avoid, as in the sec­tion ex­plain­ing the ‘catch 22’ of fish­ing in Gaza, a city sur­rounded by a large mil­i­tary wall. How­ever the sto­ries here, much like the dishes them­selves, are bold and joy­ful, and are told through the voices of the peo­ple. Two Pales­tinian chefs in north­ern Is­rael; a mum-of-six who teaches cook­ing in her Beth­le­hem refugee camp; a young woman who founded the Pales­tinian Seed Li­brary Pro­ject and many more. If ever we needed a re­minder that food is sur­vival, to­geth­er­ness and cel­e­bra­tion, Falastin is most cer­tainly it.

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