Sunday, 6 November 2016

Palestine On A Plate

Joudie Kalla’s culinary memoir brings to life a part of the world that I have little knowledge about – the area of Palestine. 
Palestine on a Plate: Memories from my mother’s kitchen by Joudie Kalla,
photography by Ria Osbourne, published by Jacqui Small (£25).

Palestine On A Plate starts off with an introduction written by Joudie which she refers to as ‘My Journey’.  Her journey is about her desire to acquaint herself with her roots, first through re-learning the Arabic language and then through making food based on her passion for keeping her mother’s recipes arrive.  She expresses the bond and unity that food offers when sharing it with other people, the positivity that that can bring and how she has found that with her Arabic friends.  Also, her words about living/visiting Palestine and the colourful backdrops and landscapes she describes conjure up wonderful images.

The book is split up into sections with one specifically called ‘Vibrant Vegetarian’ which of course caught my eye instantly!  As I flicked through the other recipes, I was mentally thinking how I could convert them into vegetarian options and there are a number that would lend themselves well for that.

Against most of the recipes are beautiful photos helping you to depict the dishes.  I was also interested in the pickling section and also the recipes for different dips, stews, vegetables and Tahini Brownies – an interesting twist on a classic. 

Below is a recipe which has been extracted from the book which I’m certainly looking to try – Lentil & Aubergine Stew with Pomegranate Molasses.  How perfect for these chilly autumnal evenings!

The flavours highlighted within are very Middle Eastern (as you might expect) and whilst a lot of the ingredients specified can now be purchased alongside mainstream goods in many supermarkets, you may need to top up some by purchasing items from specialist shops or online.

Applauded by adored chef Sami Tamimi (of Ottelenghi restaurant and cook fame), this gorgeous book is a welcomed addition to my bookshelf and I look forward to becoming more au fait with Palestinian cooking, especially when in need of some comfort food this winter.
Palestine on a Plate: Memories from my mother’s kitchen by Joudie Kalla,
photography by Ria Osbourne, published by Jacqui Small (£25).
Lentil & Aubergine Stew with Pomegranate Molasses
My grandmother Najla was born in Yaffa in Palestine and lived there until she met my grandfather Fouad and then moved to Al-Lydd. She has provided my whole family with some really wonderful memories, mainly around food and cooking, as that was what she spent most of her time doing. Her commitment and love to us all has inspired many a chef in our family. This dish is very typical of both Yaffa and El-Lyd in Palestine and it has become very popular in Gaza, too. So this recipe is dedicated to all those areas where devoted families have continued the traditions that have been passed onto the likes of me, and hopefully now, to you. Rummaniyeh means 'pomegranatey'. There are pomegranate seeds and pomegranate molasses all over this dish, draped over lentils and aubergine to create a tangy, earthy combination of utter goodness. A vegan dream!
Serves 4
250g (9oz) brown lentils
1 heaped tablespoon ground cumin
600ml (1 pint) water
1 aubergine, peeled and cubed into small pieces
1 tablespoon sea salt
50ml (2fl oz) olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
4–6 large garlic cloves, crushed
150ml (5fl oz) pomegranate molasses
juice of 2 lemons
1 pomegranate, seeded
fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to garnish
Taboon bread or Khubez (pita bread), to serve
Put the lentils, cumin and water in a saucepan, bring to the boil and then continue to boil for 10 minutes. Add the aubergine, salt and leave to simmer while you cook the garlic.
Set another pan over a medium heat. Add the olive oil and the crushed garlic and cook for a few minutes until they turn golden.
When the lentils and aubergine have been cooking for about 25 minutes, add the fried garlic and the pomegranate molasses and mix together. Cook for another 5 minutes, then stir through the lemon juice.
Place in a serving bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil, scatter the pomegranate seeds over the top and finish with some parsley. Enjoy with hot taboon bread or Khubez (pita bread).
Tip: Taboon bread is a type of flat bread traditionally baked in a tabun oven and is soft, slightly chewy and doesn't tear easily. It is sold as street food, stuffed with hummus, falafel or shaved meat and is a staple bread in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Recipe and images extracted from Palestine on a Plate: Memories from my mother’s kitchen by Joudie Kalla, photography by Ria Osbourne, published by Jacqui Small (£25).
For more information about the book, visit the link here.
Disclosure:    This post has been written following a complementary copy of Palestine On A Plate.  This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website.  



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