on 6 May 2008
I love cooking middle eastern inspired food and thought this might be a better bet than the other Arabesque book (by Claudia Roden) because a reviewer said her book didn't have enough pictures. Well, there aren't many in this book either, which is disappointing - especially as they are all grouped together rather than appearing next to their recipe.
There are some quite appetising recipes here, written by an intelligent and knowledgeable chef. But if you are like me and like to plan meals for friends by flicking through several cookbooks for inspiration, it's almost impossible to do that with this book because it is arranged as an A-Z list. It's an idea that might have made sense to the writers, who wanted to give a comprehensive overview of what you can create with classic middle eastern ingredients, but who plans meal or dinner party thinking they want to tempt their friends with dishes based on A for Artichokes or C for Cardamom? Happen upon the Cardamom page and you'll find recipes from Cardamon orange wafers to Cardamom-crumbed lamb cutlets (although, to be honest, they don't sound particularly tempting or innovative to me). But if those same recipes had been grouped in conventional chapters, this book might have stood a much better chance of being used rather than sitting unused, gathering dust on the shelf. If you want mouthwatering modern middle eastern inspiration, try the Ottolenghi book instead!