Greg and Lucy Malouf have previously written, among others, three books relating "culinary journeys" through the Middle East - Saha
(Lebanon and Syria), Turquoise
(Turkey) and Saraban
(Iran). Some nice recipes in these for sure, but they were much more coffee table books than cookbooks, with a large proportion of the text relating their journey and the photography being less food related and more what they like to call "evocative", revolving around old blokes lounging around smoking ciggies and so on.
Thankfully, this new release is all about the food. It perhaps does not come as too much of a surprise to learn that there is a significant amount of recycling here, with a considerable number of recipes carried across verbatim from those earlier publications. There are however more than enough fresh modern creations herein to make it a worthwhile purchase even for those who have the earlier three.
Probably around a third of the recipes have photographs. The photography is excellent, and many of the recipes, especially the modern creations, are beautifully styled and worthy of presentation at top fancy restaurants - plenty of colour with use of edible flowers for example. One minor annoyance is that where some photographs are overleaf rather than opposite the recipes' text, the photographs are not labelled. One slightly greater annoyance is the recipe text, which is in a not particularly large font and in too light a grey colour - not necessarily easy to read for some of us. Yet another instance of the self-indulgence of the book stylists overriding usability and practicality.
This would be a definite five star book, but loses one star through a combination of rehashing existing recipes, the not so easy to read text, plus it would be nicer to have more of the excellent photography for more of the dishes.