Jerusalem: A Cookbook
Basmati & Wild Rice with Chickpeas
Panfried Sea Bass
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A collection of 120 recipes exploring the flavors of Jerusalem from the New York Times bestselling author of Plenty, one of the most lauded cookbooks of 2011.
In Jerusalem, Yotam Ottolenghi reteams with his friend (and co-owner of his restaurants), Sami Tamimi, to explore the vibrant cuisine of their home city--with its diverse Muslim, Jewish, Arab, Christian, and Armenian communities. Both men were born in Jerusalem in the same year--Tamimi on the Arab east side and Ottolenghi in the Jewish west. This cookbook offers recipes from their unique cross-cultural perspectives including Charred Baby Okra with Tomato and Preserved Lemon, Braised Lamb Meatballs with Sour Cherries, and Clementine and Almond Cake. With five bustling restaurants in London and two stellar cookbooks, Ottolenghi is one of the most respected chefs in the world; Jerusalem is his most personal, original, and beautiful cookbook yet. More...
The passion in the air
The diversity and richness of Jerusalem, both in terms of the cooks and their disparate backgrounds and the ingredients they use, make it fascinating to any outsider. But what makes this city doubly exciting is the emotional and spiritual energy that pervades it. When it comes to people’s emotions, it is hard to overstate how unique the city is. Four thousand years of intense political and religious wrangling are impossible to hide. Wherever you go--in Jewish parts in the city center or within the walls of the ancient Old City--people are zealously fighting to protect and maintain what they see as their piece of land, their endangered culture, or their right to a certain way of life. More often than not, this is pretty ugly. Intolerance and trampling over other people’s basic rights are routine in this city. Currently, the Palestinian minority bears the brunt with no sign of it regaining control over its destiny, while the secular Jews are seeing their way of life being gradually marginalized by a growing Orthodox population.
The other, more positive side of this coin is that the inherent passion and energy that Jerusalemites have in abundance results in some fantastic food and culinary creativity. The best hummus joints, where methods have been perfected over generations, are in the city (and locals are happy to go into some seriously heated debates about the best one), as are some of the country’s most creative modern restaurants. There is something about the heated, highly animated spirit of the city’s residents that creates unparalleled delicious food. It also has a very obvious effect on the flavors, which are strong and bold, with lots of sour and sweet. The Jerusalem Palestinian hummus is patently sharp, as are the Friday night Sephardi soups.
On top of that, there is a spirit of warmth and generosity that is sometimes almost overbearing. Guests are always served mountains of food. Nothing is done sparingly. Eat More is a local motto. It is unthinkable not to eat what you are served. Going into a friend’s restaurant, or a friend of a friend, you are never expected to pay. It is a combination of the famous Middle Eastern hospitality that goes back to the days of Abraham and the typical Ashkenazi Jewish way of always showering guests and relatives with delights, lest they “go home hungry.” Heaven forbid.
Alas, although Jerusalemites have so much in common, food, at the moment, seems to be the only unifying force in this highly fractured place. The dialogue between Jews and Arabs, and often among Jews themselves, is almost nonexistent. It is sad to note how little daily interaction there is between communities, with people sticking together in closed, homogenous groups. Food, however, seems to break down those boundaries on occasion. You can see people shop together in food markets, or eat in one another’s restaurants. On rare occasions, they work together in partnership in food establishments. It takes a giant leap of faith, but we are happy to take it--what have we got to lose?--to imagine that hummus will eventually bring Jerusalemites together, if nothing else will.
Panfried sea bass with harissa & rose
This dish originates from Bizerte, the northernmost city in Africa. It is sweet and spicy and beautifully aromatic. It is adapted from a recipe kindly given to us by Rafram Hadad... Serve it as a main course with some plain rice or couscous and something green, like sautéed spinach or Swiss chard. Dried rose petals are available in Middle Eastern stores and also online.
Serves 2 to 4
3 tbsp harissa paste (store-bought...)
1 tsp ground cumin
4 sea bass fillets, about 1 lb / 450 g in total, skinned and with pin bones removed
all-purpose flour, for dusting
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
6 tbsp / 100 ml red wine vinegar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
scant 1 cup / 200 ml water
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp rose water
scant cup / 60 g currants (optional)
2 tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro (optional)
2 tsp small dried edible rose petals
salt and freshly ground black pepper
First marinate the fish. Mix together half the harissa paste, the ground cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Rub the paste all over the fish fillets and leave them to marinate for 2 hours in the fridge.
Dust the fillets with a little flour and shake off the excess. Heat the olive oil in a wide frying pan over medium-high heat and fry the fillets for 2 minutes on each side. You may need to do this in two batches. Set the fish aside, leave the oil in the pan, and add the onions. Stir as you cook for about 8 minutes, until the onions are golden.
Add the remaining harissa, the vinegar, the cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and plenty of black pepper. Pour in the water, lower the heat, and let the sauce simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, until quite thick.
Add the honey and rose water to the pan along with the currants, if using, and simmer gently for a couple more minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning and then return the fish fillets to the pan; you can slightly overlap them if they don’t quite fit. Spoon the sauce over the fish and leave them to warm up in the simmering sauce for 3 minutes; you may need to add a few tablespoons of water if the sauce is very thick. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with the cilantro, if using, and the rose petals.
Copyright © 2012 by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Reprinted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook with permission from Ten Speed Press.
About The Authors
Yotam Ottolenghi, (person on the right in this photo)--
chef and co-owner of five bustling restaurants in London, is one of the most respected chefs in the world. He is the author of Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London's Ottolenghi, and Jerusalem: A Cookbook--his most personal, original, and beautiful cookbook yet. Two of the books were written with his Palestinian colleague, Sami Tamimi. Ottolenghi completed a master’s degree in philosophy and literature while working on the news desk of an Israeli daily, but made a radical shift upon coming to London in 1997. He started as an assistant pastry chef at the Capital and then worked at Kensington Place, Launceston Place, Maison Blanc and Baker and Spice, before starting his own group of restaurants/food shops in 2002--an instant success. Since 2006, Ottolenghi writes a weekly column in the Guardian's weekend Saturday magazine. He presented a BBC4 documentary about the food of Jerusalem in 2011 and is currently working a Mediterranean series for Channel 4. (London, England)
Sami Tamimi (above left)--
was born and raised in Jerusalem and was immersed in food from childhood. Watching his mother cook Palestinian delicacies, Sami was one of the very rare and fortunate that knew from an early age where their futures lie.
He started his career as commis-chef in a Jerusalem hotel and worked his way up, through many restaurants and ethnic traditions, to become head chef of Lilith, one of the top restaurants in Tel Aviv in the 1990’s.
Sami moved to London in 1997 and worked at Baker and Spice as head chef, where he set up a traiteur section with a rich Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean spread. In 2002 he partnered with Noam Bar and Yotam Ottolenghi to set up Ottolenghi in Notting Hill. The company now has four stores and a restaurant, NOPI, all in central London. In his position as the executive head chef, Sami is involved in developing and nurturing young kitchen talents and creating new dishes and innovative menus.
Alongside Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi is co-author of two bestselling cookbooks: Ottolenghi: The Cookbook and Jerusalem: A Cookbook.
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