Set aside the afternoon and make yourself another cup of coffee because this book on Iraqi cuisine by Nawal Nasrallah will draw you in so completely that you won't realize the hours have passed. Part cookbook, part history book, part bedtime story (at least for me!) — Delights from the Garden of Eden is a veritable encyclopedia of anything and everything having to do with Iraqi cuisine.
• Who wrote it: Nawal Nasrallah
• Who published it: Equinox
• Number of recipes: Over 400
• Recipes for right now: Iraqi Flatbread, Browned Eggplant with Yogurt, Gyro Sandwiches, Herbed Zucchini Pancakes, Okra Stew, Green Rice with Fresh Fava Beans, Chicken Biryani, Tashreeb of Lamb and Eggplant Simmered in Pomegranate Sauce, Chicken Drumsticks Baked in Fig Sauce, Golden Apple Squares, Cantaloupe Drink
• Other highlights: I am totally fascinated by this book. No where have I seen such a comprehensive collection of Iraqi recipes, particularly ones so solidly framed in their historic context. I was a history minor in college, and this book makes me want to pull out my highlighter and dig deep. And of course, I love seeing all the recipes — some of them slight variations on other Middle Eastern recipes that I love, some of them totally new. They are written here as they've been made for centuries, and yet I found the dishes and the ingredients needed to make them to be very accessible.
This book is designed in the style of a textbook: tight columns of text, small pictures, glossy pages. This can make it feel a little impenetrable at first — but not for long. There is just so much to take in. While reading through a recipe for Fava Bean Stew, I'm pulled into a story from Arabian Nights. Reading about the history of baklawa (aka baklava) carries me right along to Ms. Nasrallah's precise recipes for filling and shaping all different varieties of the pastry. The culinary history and food fables weave in and out of the recipes, creating a rich and incredibly engaging book.
If you've ever had even a shred of interest in the cuisine from this part of the world, I recommend taking a look at this book. For curious and adventurous cooks, it has enough to inspire our meals for years to come.
• Who would enjoy this book? Food history buffs, cooks who love Middle Eastern cuisine
→ Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Delights from the Garden of Eden by Nawal Nasrallah
• Visit the author's website: Nawal Nasrallah
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Images: Emma Christensen)