Excellent, fresh Middle Eastern recipes with a focus on Persian flavours.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 16 May 2016
This review references the Kindle version of this book, though of course the content is identical to the print versions. I've had the book for several months now and have cooked several recipes from it (multiple times, as below).
Excellent Middle Eastern cookbook with a focus on (but not exclusive to) modern Persian recipes. Instructions are clear & results are dependable.
I picked up Ms Ghayour's book in Kindle format after downloading the free sample and liking the available content. I'll admit that I was initially drawn in by the gorgeous photography, as I already have a fairly hefty collection of Middle Eastern cookery books, and several that are specific to Iranian food.
The Kindle version features interactive tables of content (so critical for a cookery book and yet often missing, especially from older Kindle books) arranged by course (ie appetisers, mains, desserts etc) and then individually broken down with links to each recipe contained within that section. The layout is simple to use across devices (tested on iPad, Win & Mac desktop, Android).
The photos which accompany each dish are compelling and bright, without being over-styled: in essence, getting your dish to look like the one pictured is actually attainable without a Michelin star to your name. Each recipe has a photo and the book doesn't contain excess 'ingredient' photos (you know the type; the macro shots of a lemon, scattered cloves, etc etc) which makes it very usable indeed.
To date, I've made the following:
Batinjan al Rahib, a (very!) garlicky eggplant dip that goes perfectly alongside rich/fatty meat dishes, with a nice play on texture between the soft eggplant and the crisp peppers;
Cacik, a Turkish staple, fantastically fresh with loads of herbs;
Spiced Lamb Kefta, which smell as amazing as they taste, with sweet notes from the currants (try these with the Cacik, as we did all three times we made them);
Butternut Squash with Pistachio Pesto & Feta, which makes a really gorgeous vegetarian main but is (as with any recipe, of course) very dependent on excellent butternut squash (the first time it was so-so, the second time fantastic) and very ripe, sweet pomegranate;
Karniyarik, stuffed eggplant, have become a staple in our home, the flavour combination is amazing and while they take a long time from start to finish, you can make a big batch and they keep very well in the fridge for several days; top with plenty of labneh or Greek yoghurt and try to convince yourself going back for thirds is a bad idea... (it isn't);
Spice-Perfumed Shoulder of Lamb is gorgeous and so, so simple; I did find I needed to turn down the oven slightly to cook for an extra hour at a lower temperature for fall-off-the-bone texture (while retaining moisture), but this of course is a commentary on my oven rather than the recipe;
Blood Orange and Radicchio salad, a beautiful flavour combination of sweet, tart & bitter; goes very well with the lamb shoulder and would stand up well to any robust meat dish, with the hint of fresh dill really elevating it above a simple salad (do yourself a favour and track down a good pomegranate molasses with only 'pomegranates' listed in the ingredients, as often the syrups available are too sweet).
I would honestly happily pay the price of the book for just the karniyarik recipe, but I'm really pleased with this purchase, and look forward to trying many more dishes. This really is a fantastic, accessible cookery book and should appeal to a broad range of palates. As evident by the answers, comments & other reviews, Ms Ghayour is very responsive to questions that may crop up; while I've not asked any myself, I always find it reassuring when an author (or publisher) makes an effort to provide assistance.
88 people found this helpful