Celebrating the Legendary Cuisine of Syria
Sometimes a cookbook comes along that doesn’t just teach you recipes: it transports you to another time, another place, where before you even make a single dish, you can taste, hear and smell the sights and sounds of the place it was created.
This is how I felt when I opened the pages of The Aleppo Cookbook. Syria is often in the news, but sadly, seldom for its food – although there are many stories on how the people of this proud nation are still creating the dishes of their ancestors, even in the most appalling of conditions.
Aleppo is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, so it’s not surprising that it has a lush and extensive collection of timeless dishes. As steeped in spices as they are in history, this Arabic culinary bible is full of Middle Eastern cooking techniques, step by step explanations and over 200 recipes, many of which are so simple, and so delicious.
Many of the recipes are Arabic versions of recipes that are well known in several cuisines; the Arabic Flatbread is a case in point, as is the Baba Ghanouj with Vegetables. There’s a fantastic section on kebabs for kebab lovers, and some of the more traditional Arabic recipes are enticing: as well as this wonderfully evocative three-ingredient Tamarind Beverage, there`s a whole section on kibbeh, a staple dish found in different forms all over Syria, that really helps set this Syrian scene.
Some of the ingredients aren`t all that easy to find (and some you may decide not to: I’m not sure I’ll be whipping up stuffed lamb tongues any time soon) but many of them are surprisingly accessible. And with gorgeous recipe names like Respected Lady (pickled turnips), Itch for Everyday (bulgur wheat salad) and Hidden Love (stuffed zucchini or eggplant) you’ll enjoy every minute of your research.
For every book sold, a donation will be made to a charity on the ground in Syria. For full details visit www.headofzeus.com