A soulful tour of Palestinian cooking today from the Ottolenghi restaurants’ executive chef and partner—120 recipes shaped by his personal story as well as the history of Palestine.
JAMES BEARD AWARD NOMINEE • IACP AWARD WINNER • LONGLISTED FOR THE ART OF EATING PRIZE • ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR: Forbes, Bon Appétit, NPR, San Francisco Chronicle, Food Network, Food & Wine, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal
“Truly, one of the best cookbooks of the year so far.”—Bon Appétit
The story of Palestine’s food is really the story of its people. When the events of 1948 forced residents from all regions of Palestine together into one compressed land, recipes that were once closely guarded family secrets were shared and passed between different groups in an effort to ensure that they were not lost forever.
In Falastin (pronounced “fa-la-steen”), Sami Tamimi retraces the lineage and evolution of his country’s cuisine, born of its agriculturally optimal geography, its distinct culinary traditions, and Palestinian cooks’ ingenuity and resourcefulness. Tamimi covers the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River—East Jerusalem and the West Bank, up north to the Galilee and the coastal cities of Haifa and Akka, inland to Nazareth, and then south to Hebron and the coastal Gaza Strip—recounting his upbringing with eleven siblings and his decision to leave home at seventeen to cook in West Jerusalem, where he met and first worked with Yotam Ottolenghi.
From refugee-camp cooks to the home kitchens of Gaza and the mill of a master tahini maker, Tamimi teases out the vestiges of an ancient culinary tradition as he records the derivations of a dynamic cuisine and people in more than 130 transporting photographs and 120 recipes, including:
• Hassan’s Easy Eggs with Za’atar and Lemon
• Fish Kofta with Yogurt, Sumac, and Chile
• Pulled-Lamb Schwarma Sandwich
• Labneh Cheesecake with Roasted Apricots, Honey, and Cardamom
Named after the Palestinian newspaper that brought together a diverse people, Falastin is a vision of a cuisine, a culture, and a way of life as experienced by one influential chef.
Ottolenghi alums Tamimi (coauthor, Jerusalem and Ottolenghi) and Wigley (coauthor, Ottolenghi Simple) set out on their own with this expert dive into the food of Palestine. The dishes overflow with bold flavors: hummus is layered with toasted pita, drizzled with parsley oil, and sprinkled with sumac in a chapter of hearty breakfast choices; preserved baby eggplants stuffed with walnuts and spicy peppers are ideal appetizers. Signatures such as "upside down" rice inverted so that the beans, squash, and lamb baked underneath rest on top when served are represented, and London-dwelling Tamimi also freely pairs nontraditional items like beets and sweet potatoes with pistachio and bulgur. Each recipe features tips for advance preparation (tahini and caramelized onions for a spicy baked cod dish can be made ahead) and suggested variations (for gluten-free chicken meatballs, replace bread crumbs with grated zucchini). The authors acknowledge that discussions about Palestine can be "political and difficult," and they successfully walk that tightrope with sidebars on Banksy's Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem and figures such as Islam Abu Aouda, who offers cooking lessons in her refugee camp home. Like the best cookbooks, this one opens a window to expand both palates and minds.