The city of Jerusalem may be "an intricate, convoluted mosaic of peoples," as Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi describe in the introduction to their new cookbook. But they are also quick, and very insistent, to state that this doesn't mean that there isn't a sense of cohesive local cuisine. There are threads that bind the diverse and layered foods of this city closely together—the flavor of lemon juice, the presence of pickled vegetables on a table, an extra drizzle of olive oil, figs, pomegranates, apricots, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Jerusalem is as much a map as it is a cookbook, and following it leads to some very unexpected places.
• Who wrote it: Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
• Who published it: Ten Speed Press
• Number of recipes: 120 recipes
• Recipes for right now: Chermoula Eggplant with Bulgur and Yogurt; Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad; Wheat Berries and Swiss Chard with Pomegranate Molasses; Lamb-Stuffed Quince with Pomegranate and Cilantro; Braised Eggs with Lamb, Tahini, and Sumac; Semolina, Coconut, and Marmalade Cake; Spice Cookies.
• Other highlights: Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi are in a unique position to write this cookbook. They are both insiders, having spent their childhoods in different parts of the city, and outsiders who have now spent more time away from Jerusalem than in it. They know the flavors and dishes of this city in their bones, but they also have enough perspective to write about them in a way that speaks to those of us who have never been there. The fact that Ottolenghi and Tamimi had different cultural upbringings also adds richness and depth to the stories and recipes in this book.
Turning a page in this cookbook is like turning a corner and discovering a new restaurant or street vendor or tea shop. Each recipe is more enticing and crave-inducing than the last. And the authors are totally right: each individual recipe is as unique as a fingerprint, but if you step back and look at the collection as a whole, there is a clear sense of cohesiveness.
I have only had the chance to make one dish so far, the Burnt Eggplant with Garlic, Lemon, and Pomegranate Seeds. It is a completely simple dish with surprisingly complex flavors. I'm making it again tonight. And I have no doubt that I will be making many more dishes from this book in the coming weeks and months.
• Who would enjoy this book? Would it be cheating to say "everyone"?! I really do think that there is something in this book to appeal to each of us. Once you find one recipe that needs to be made right this instant, it's easy to find another....and another...and another.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
• More Ottolenghi on The Kitchn: Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi: Cookbook Review and Recipe
(Images: Emma Christensen)