I've been following the author of Palestine on a Plate, Joudie Kalla on Instagram for some time. Joudie's Instagram account showcases a range of mouthwatering and colourful food photos, alongside photos of her beloved Palestine. I liked Joudie's own appreciation of Palestinian cuisine when moving to Paris which she states intensified her love of Palestinian and Arabic cuisine.
There's a lovely introduction to the country of Palestine and although the country is considered unsafe to visit, we can sample authentic dishes via this cookbook. As my appetite for Middle Eastern cuisine continues, this book is a welcome addition to my growing collection. This book stands out from my many Middle Eastern cookery books due to the large number of vibrant vegetarian dishes. As you would expect from Middle Eastern cookbook all the dishes are colourful and vibrant, I want to dive straight in.
All the traditional Middle Eastern ingredients are introduced to the reader (and the history of the ingredient) alongside spices (Ras el Hanout, Dukkah and Za'atar) and blends such as the Baharat Spice Mix. Key grains, fruits and nuts are also introduced. The majority of recipes are easily accessible and ingredients can be purchased at your local supermarket. With everything else there is Sous Chef.
I like the tone of this cookery book with mentions of her family (mother and siblings) as it gives a personal touch. So far I've made the Halibut Baked Over Spicy Potaotes and the Oven-baked Okra with Olive Oil, Tomatoes & Onions. Both dishes were easy to make and went down well with my family.
Any cookery book which has a chapter on breakfast is a winner for me. The chapters in this book are the following:
- Good Morning Starters, recipes to try include Ijeh (Fluffy Egg Fritters with Tomato Salsa) Kibdet Il Djaj, Za'atar Scones and Figs with Labneh & Honey on Toasted Bread.
- Hearty Pulses and Grains, stand out recipes to try include: Shorabet Freekeh (Freekeh Soup), Rummaniyeh, (Lentil & Aubergine Stew with Pomegranate Molasses), Cumin Lentils & Rice with Caramelized Onions, Maftoul (Palestinian Pearl Cous Cous with Caraway, Chicken, Onions & Parsley), M'sabaha (Warm Chunky Chickpeas with Cumin, Garlic & Yogurt) and Kubbet Batata Helweh (Sweet Potato Kubberh with Green Herby Salsa).
- Vibrant Vegetarian: Recipes to try include: Bamyeh Bil Zeit (Oven-baked Okra with Olive Oil, Tomatoes & Onions), Batata Harra (Spicy Coriander & Garlic Potatoes) and Teta Huda's Mussaka's (Fried & Baked Spicy Aubergine & Tomato Stew).
- The Mighty Lamb & Chicken: Standout recipes include Makloubeh (Upside down Spiced Rice with Lamb & Aubergines), Shakriyeh (Lamb shanks Cooked in Yogurt Sauce with Burgul & Vermicelli), Jawaneh (Chilli Chicken Wings) and Mashbous - Auntie Noha's Recipe (Dried limes & Spiced Chicken Rice Platter).
- Fragrant Fish: Recipes to try include: Saffron & Lemon Cod with Jewelled Herby Rice, Samak Meshwi Wa Batata Harra (Halibut Baked Over Spicy Potatoes), Sultan, Ibrahim, Makli Wa, Salatet Adas (Fried Red Mullet with Preserved Lemon & Lentil Salad) and Sumac & Za'atar Roasted Monkfish.
- Sweet Tooth: Standout recipes include: Yaffa Orange Cheesecake, Halaweet Il Jibin (Sticky Sweet Cheese & Cream), Tahini Brownies and Banana & Medjool Date Cake.
The recipe that I would like to share with you is the Bamyeh Bi Zeit (Oven- Baked Okra with Olive Oil, Tomatoes & Onions.
Serves 4 -6
700g okra tops cut off
4 onions cut into half and sliced
4 tomatoes cut in half and sliced
10 garlic cloves, sliced lengthways
1 tablespoon tomato puree
juice of 6 lemons
150ml olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
1 green chill, chopped
2 tablespoon ground coriander
2-3 tablespoon sea salt
a bunch of fresh coriander
Preheat the oven to 190C fan (210C/415F/Gas mark 6-7)
Place all the ingredients, except the water and half the fresh coriander, in a baking tray and mix together. Cover with the water and then core the whole tray with foil.
Bake for about 60-75 minutes until you have a rich stew consistency. The liquid in the tray will become thick and sticky with the tomatoes and lemon, so keep checking the consistency during the cooking time. If at any time during the early stages of cooking the water has evaporated too much simply add more.
Serve with fresh coriander scattered over the top and some bread, if liked.
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