by Parvin Razavi Grub Street Cookery, 2017 Review by Christian Perring on Jan 8th 2019
This lovely book of recipes based on Middle Eastern food is impressive. The dishes it provides are relatively simple and the preparation is easy. Even for those who are familiar with food of one region may well discover dishes they had not heard of before. It will be fairly simple to find the ingredients so long as you have a well-stocked Asian or international market near you. There may be some exceptions -- I don't know how easy it is to find barberries, dried, lime, ras el hanout spice mix, or verjuice, I'm not sure where I would find pre-made vegan flaky pastry either. But most of the spices, beans, rice, vegetables and fruits should be pretty easy to locate. Recipes quantities are giving in grams and milliliters rather than ounces and fluid ounces, which some readers may find unusual, but it is easy to make the conversion. Terminology is British, so it uses words like gherkins, coriander and aubergines, but it should not present a problem so long as the reader is aware of this.
The book includes sections on Iran and Armenia, then one on Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, then Egypt, Morocco and finally Turkey. There is a lot of use of potatoes, rice, chick peas and lentils, with lemons, olive oil, cumin and garlic, in various combinations. Some of the recipes are very simple: hummus in a number of varieties, roasted almonds, and cinnamon tea. Others take more skill: Lebanese bread, stuffed tomatoes, okra in tomato sauce, and baklava. There's a nice mix of standard dishes and less familiar ones: I haven't seen recipes for preserved lemons, Egyptian falafel, Persian New Year soup, or hazelnut dip before.
Every recipe is illustrated with a clear photo of the finished product. The colors are a bit muted, but that seems to be a printing issue. There are also very pretty illustrations which add to the book's appeal.