Middle Eastern and ‘Jewish’ cuisine is a great interest of mine. I’m not Jewish but a lot of the food still provides me with a sense of homely comfort, a feeling that I grew up with it, even though I didn’t.
My amazing friend Francesca sent me a copy of Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews (Poopa Dweck) for Christmas and I feel rather ashamed that it’s taken me so long to cook from it. Although I have read it from cover to cover, so maybe I shouldn’t feel so bad.
Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews is a fabulous book, which not only contains lots of lovely recipes alongside amazing photographs but a little cultural history of the Syrian Jews. This added background is something I much appreciate and admire in cookery books; okay sometimes you just want the recipe – something quick to follow but other times you (or at least I do) want to curl up in a comfy armchair with a steaming mug of tea and a book to dive into and submerge into the origins of the food mentioned.
Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews has an accompanying website which can be found here.
The first recipe I decided to try was mujedrah (rice with brown lentils and caramelised onions), but to make the dish more of a complete meal I decided to add some roasted vegetables. I roasted the vegetables, onions, peppers, butternut squash, sweet potato and aubergine with some olive oil and Aleppo spice blend (obtained from The Spice Shop).
The Jews of Aleppo were famed for their refined and tasty cuisine, which was regarded as ‘the pearl of the Arab kitchen’ and after eating this wonderful dish, it is easy to see why. The flavours were subtle yet defined and very very moreish. The only disappointment was that I didn’t have any fresh herbs to scatter over at the end, that would have really freshened the meal up.
I served it, as Poopa suggests, with thick yogurt, cucumber, hummus and some amba sauce (which was also a gorgeous gift from Francesca).
I can’t wait to get cooking from this book again. Many thanks to Francesca!