Out of all the world’s styles of cooking, Middle Eastern is one of my favourites. I am also an avid collector of Middle Eastern recipe books, and recently particularly enjoyed Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer’s “Honey & Co.” series.
Co-owners of Israeli-style Honey & Co. restaurant on Warren Street, Srulovich and Packer bring a real taste of the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to their books. The first one, entitled “Honey & Co: Food from the Middle East” is quite generic, but in a good way, with recipes for mainstays such as hummus and felafel as well as less well-known ethnic specialities such as Kurdish kubbeh soup. The second — “Honey & Co: The Baking Book” — is more desert based, but still has some amazing Middle Eastern savoury recipes: jahnun and burekasim being particular stand-outs.
I also enjoyed “Turkish Fire” by Sevtap Yuce. Although dedicated to Turkish street and grill food, it also had a number of substantial recipes for soups and deserts. Dotted with small sections on Turkish culture, Yuce’s personal touch is what makes this book so special. It is also very well illustrated with excellent photos throughout, giving the reader a good idea of how what they are cooking should appear once it is finished.
Greg and Lucy Malouf’s “New Feast: Modern Middle Eastern Vegetarian” was nice too. With an abundance of salads and other vegetable-based dishes it was more consistently good than ground-breaking. Written with plenty of originality, it has lots of surprises: my favourite was a pilaf using pumpkin instead of meat which also replaced rice with bulgur. Although the Maloufs are Lebanese, their recipes have North African, Levantine and Anatolian influences. For fans of those cuisines, their book has plenty to offer.