From the vibrant souks of Tripoli and Beirut to the quiet calm of the Chouf Mountains and Qadisha Valley, Lebanon is a land of bold colours, exquisite flavours and hidden beauty. For this gorgeous book, John Gregory-Smith travelled the length and breadth of the country to bring back the very best of Lebanese cuisine. Classic streetfood, delicate pastries and little known Druze recipes are given John's signature twist, creating dishes that are bursting with flavour and sure to become star players in your kitchen.
With stunning location photography to bring the country to life, Saffron in the Souks is sure to delight and inspire its readers.
Gregory-Smith expands his Middle Eastern and North African oeuvre (after Orange Blossom & Honey) with an enticing take on the food of Lebanon. There's no ignoring Lebanon's civil war "it hangs over everything," the author acknowledges but there's much to explore and lots of heady flavors. Many savory dishes, such as beef skewers inspired by the "hole-in-the-wall stalls" found in Tripoli (in northern Lebanon), are scented with a seven-spice mixture that contains cinnamon, black pepper, and cilantro. A brick of halloumi cheese is roasted until "gooey" and served on a bed of orange, grapefruit, and arugula. Whole mackerel is marinated in a mix of garlic, tahini, and lemon juice, then grilled and served with a sumac-parsley dipping sauce; and chicken shawarma bakes atop roasted fries that absorb juices. Smith adopts the tone of an enthusiastic amateur, which is mostly charming (a small breakfast flatbread topped with ground lamb and an egg is "essentially a Druze McMuffin"), but occasionally misfires, as when he refers to lamb-stuffed dumplings in yogurt sauce as "tortellini" and fried pastries as "cannoli." That said, a "Syrian spaghetti" dish made with fettuccine and topped with pomegranate seeds, walnuts, and slivers of fried onion sounds delicious no matter the name. Gregory-Smith tantalizes with this appealing, accessible collection.