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on 30 July 2013
For someone who is mostly used to East European cuisine, like me, this book will be a true adventure. It will most likely change the way you look at the Middle Eastern cuisine and might make you experiment much more.

You might not like sweet stuff with your meat, have no idea what `sumac' is or it might seem crazy to you to prepare rice dish with `crispy bottom' (not mentioning, that traditionally, it takes two hours to do that) and you say that parsley is good for soups only, right?

Well, get a bottle of wine (preferably lebanese), open this book, find some recipe with your favourite ingredient and cook it.

I bet, you'll end up like me - finishing very easily portion for four people of Stuffed squid with fennel - all on my own, with no shame and great pleasure!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 September 2013
This is a book that you don't want to start reading when you are in a hurry. Set aside a bit of quiet "me time", kick off your shoes and start to dream, glancing through the hundred-plus different recipes that showcase some of the best Middle East and North African cooking.

As well as learning about a possibly new food culture you can make these delights at home as well. Even glancing at the list of "everyday" ingredients such as saffron, pine nuts, pomegranate and figs will show you that you are in for a treat.

From an interesting introduction that helps set the scene, helps the reader get to know the author and her mindset and learn more about the food, one is then dropped straight into the recipes. It is time to get cooking. Whether you are browsing through the book being seduced by the great food photography or you are going straight to a recipe, guided perhaps by the detailed index at the rear, you will find everything you need in a concise yet very well-written page. Most recipes are prefixed by an interesting introduction and accompanied by a clear list of ingredients AND an estimation of a typical preparation and cooking time. Such a little thing can make a world of difference to someone who is possibly nervous or unfamiliar with a style of cooking. Mind you, there is nothing to be nervous about as the recipes do not skimp on their instructions yet it doesn't feel verbose. It is almost as if your hand is being held throughout each and every stage, but it does not feel patronising.

About the only complaint is the (relatively) tiny font size that plays havoc with this reviewer's middle-aged eyes. A few more pages and a bigger typeface would have been oh-so-welcome. Oh, on the subject of fonts, the strange "Middle Eastern"-looking font used for each recipe's title was not the easiest to read...

But when you look at the sheer number of recipes and their selection then "wow!" springs to mind. Of course, this reviewer cannot state how authentic they are and no doubt that many people hailing from that region will argue that a given recipe cannot be authentic as it is not how their mother used to make it. Yet for the rest of us this will serve possibly as a great introduction to some food from this region and give a great opportunity to have a go and make it at home. On this alone this book is a winner, a keeper, an instant buy. If you've never knowingly tried food from this region and you are open for something new, just buy the book, pick a recipe at random and get cooking. Be prepared, however, to be addicted!

Hopefully the author has a further book full of recipes in reserve so that a second volume can be brought out for those who have became addicted to Middle Eastern and North African food thanks to this book!
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on 30 July 2013
Bethany Kehdy has created a beautiful cookbook with great illustrations and easy to follow recipes.

This is so important to me when trying to cook something I have never cooked before. Mouth watering dishes with wonderful exciting ingredients.

I just love all the recipes and will en-devour to work my way through the whole mouth watering dishes.

Thumbs up for this book and I cannot wait for the next one!!!
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on 6 August 2013
Having grown up with a Greek Cypriot father above a Greek restaurant in London, I'm well versed in the cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean. As such, it's a pleasure to find a book like this - taking the familiar yet adding the author's own personal touch, taste and flair into each and every recipe. Whether it be the duck shawarma, the venison nests with cherry, or the delightful orange salad which lights up the front cover, the flavours used are both nostalgic yet contemporary and fun.

What's more, the photography is fantastic throughout, bringing each recipe to life while the author's background introduction is a fascinating tale of ambivalence; longing for a homeland which has known so much conflict and using cooking as a way to express that feeling. Reading it brought shivers to the neck and an understanding of what the Lebanese might diaspora experience through the medium of food!
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on 27 September 2013
I haven't had it that long so I have not tried out all the recipes I want as yet. So far I have really enjoyed the shakshoukah, the mixed greens frittata, the carrot salad, the pepper and walnut dip, fattoush salad, beetroot, radish and grapefruit salad. Also the chamomile chicken, sumac chicken casserole, quinces stuffed with veal and berries. All the recipes were clear and well explained and easy to follow.

There is a whole vegetarian section I haven't even looked at properly - and my wife tells me the desserts look wonderful (I don't eat them so very rarely cook them - only when she bribes me)

A useful section of basic recipes and methods concludes the book - very helpful. As is the two page guide to stocking the store cupboard.

It is a nice piece of book production, well laid out and good to handle. Also the photographs have been kept under control - they do not crowd out the recipes as in some recent cookbooks.

Have a look at it in a bookshop and see if you don't find several recipes you want to make as soon as you can
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on 30 July 2013
I've had the book in my possession since it was first launched and have spent many hours flicking through it and deciding what to cook first - The 'Chargrilled Sweet Pepper & Walnut Dip' (pg 55) won the prize and was absolutely delicious. The pictures that accompany the recipes are so beautifully made and photographed - how could you not want to cook everything from this book!
Bethany's book is an excellent insight into recipes from her heritage, with meticulous detail. Just read the intro for Tabbouleh for a start - who knew that chopping parsley correctly was such an art, as well as being integral to the dish? I do now! The Jewelled Kitchen is currently taking pride of place on my expanding shelf of cookbooks that I'm sure I'll be dipping in and out of on a regular basis. Would highly recommend.
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on 17 July 2013
I've always been fascinated by Middle Eastern cuisine and I had been searching for the perfect book to start cooking. When I first opened this book I could instantly feel a love for a culture by the author. The recipes are inviting and authentic, a true journey through Middle Eastern culture. In the back of the book are easy to follow recipes for the basics like herb mixes and breads, you only really need one book on Middle Eastern food and that is this one, and maybe a sequel if there were to be one!
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on 24 July 2013
I've followed the blog that is behind this book for a few years after coming across it looking for some vaguely Middle Eastern recipe.

Since then I have made many of the dishes that Bethany has featured on her site - and they have always been delicious.

I knew nothing about this type of cuisine but I gather that her recipes mix the traditional Middle Eastern classics, basics and methods with a little bit of modern interpretation. Wherever she is getting her ideas from, it's working. Refined yet simple to cook dishes full of new and tantalising flavours.

And, with the news that she had been asked to write a book, I was ready and waiting. If anything, the book is better than the blog. Stuffed with great food to dive into it's a visual feast of ideas. I only received it yesterday but have been drooling over it constantly since. Tonight I am tackling 'Auntie Anwar's Mansaf Risotto' a sharing plate of lamb and rice hopped up on spices. Can't wait, but there are many I want to try.

If you're open to new food experiences Bethany's cooking is a great window on a cuisine that we don't usually embrace in the west - and her book is a brilliant resource.
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on 5 August 2015
Some great recipes but probably less than half have a foto with them. Its much nicer when a you have a picture of what u are cooking in front of u especially if ur making new dishes
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on 30 October 2013
I've been following Bethany Kehdy's food blog for quite some time and was thrilled to see she had published this beautifully photographed book of Middle Eastern cuisine, specifically focusing on the foods of her childhood, growing up in Lebanon.

All the recipes are easy to follow and nearly every one has an accompanying, stunning photograph. There are several traditional recipes but each has a twist of their own- like Auntie Anwaar's Mansaf Risotto and Chicken & Preserved Lemon Tagine or Jewelled rice. In the back of the book, Bethany gives also gives you the basic recipes and methods for many additional items like Harissa, Paneer cheese and Couscous. Plus, she has also included a listing of items to keep in your pantry to make creating Middle Eastern & North African dishes a breeze!

If you are looking to make authentic, easy to create, home-made middle eastern dishes, then Bethany's book is for you.
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