Jerusalem: A Cookbook
by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
By Kate Thornberry, 12:00PM, Tue. Jan. 22, 2013
It is the kind of book that could just as easily be a coffee-table book as a kitchen standby. But after cooking recipe after recipe from its pages, in my house it is destined to be a standby, because the recipes are amazing.
Yotam Ottolenghi is a quite famous British chef, with five outrageously successful restaurants and a New York Times best-selling cookbook, Plenty, under his belt. Sami Tamimi, his partner, is the head chef at Ottolenghi's restaurants. Both men are natives of the city of Jerusalem. Ottolenghi is of Jewish descent; Tamimi's family is Arabian. Between the two of them, there probably couldn't be a duo more expert on the topic of Jerusalem's cuisine.
Unlike many chef-written cookbooks, this one is not terribly persnickety, nor are the recipes written for restaurant use. The methods and the flavors are designed for home cooking. Most of the recipes are simple and easy to make, yet the flavors are astounding. Ample attention is given to not only the Jewish, but also the Muslim and Christian culinary traditions of the great city. Anyone who loves Middle Eastern cuisine (and especially folks who would like to expand their knowledge of it!) or anyone who plans to visit the Holy Land at some point in their lives owes it to themselves to get this book. It is a genuine tour-de-force.