*Starred Review* Syria's venerable cuisine draws together diverse strains of Middle Eastern traditions to form a rich amalgam. As the nation's largest city, positioned close to Turkey and Lebanon, Aleppo is home to Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Jews, and other ethnic communities, each of which has contributed to its culinary traditions. Moreover, Aleppo was the western terminus of the ancient Silk Road, so even Chinese influences are detectable in its cooking. Professional chef and cooking instructor Matar offers detailed instructions for preparing multiple versions of kibbeh, the Middle East's renowned ground-meat dish. Other recipes offer tasty ways to cook vegetables for serving both hot and cold. Rich, sweet desserts conclude the book. Recipes are easy to follow and rarely demand hard-to-find ingredients. It's hard to imagine a cookbook that can make a reader weep, but poring over this book's richly colored photographs of Syrians crowding souks amid a sumptuous array of foods and utensils, one can only mourn their probable ruin in Syria's current civil war. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews
The rich culinary heritage of Aleppo comes to life in this tribute to the Syrian city at the ancient Mediterranean crossroads. While acknowledging that war, migration, and climate change challenge modern-day Aleppo, Marlene Matar, Lebanese chef of television and cooking school fame, offers delicious ways to celebrate the diverse historical roots of Middle Eastern cooking in over 200 recipes for foundation dishes and fancier meals. Chapters include appetizers, grains, and stuffed dishes; stews, soups, and sauce-based recipes; flatbread, pickles, and preserves; and drinks and desserts. Nearly 30 variations of kibbeh are featured, including quince in a pomegranate meat stock. Numerous vegetable main dishes are included, such as a stew of lentils, bulgar, and caramelized onions, and a traditional Aleppian dish with the delightful name of "Hidden Love" that consists of stuffed zucchini cooked with green beans in a tomato sauce. Desserts include lemony milk pudding infused with rosewater and orange blossoms. Ingredients are regional but accessible to home cooks, and there's a glossary. This introduction to Middle Eastern cooking techniques will equally satisfy beginners or experienced fans of the regional fare. Cityscape photos and colorful prepared dishes captivate as Mater brings Aleppo's aromas, marketplace, and table to life. (July) [Page ]. Copyright 2016 PWxyz LLC
It is hardly surprising that Aleppo, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, is also home to one of the world’s most distinguished and vibrant cuisines. Surrounded by fertile lands and located at the end of the Silk Road, which passed through Central Asia and Mesopotamia, Aleppo was a food capital long before Paris, Rome, or New York. Its diverse communities of Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Circassians, and others contributed to its culinary traditions and produced a vast selection of different types of dishes—and no less than 20 kinds of kibbeh recipes. Here, one of the Arab world’s most renowned chefs unlocks the secrets to this distinctive cuisine in this comprehensive cookbook filled with practical guidance on Middle Eastern cooking techniques as well as step-by step explanations of over 200 irresistible recipes, such as Chili and Garlic Kebab, Syrian Fishcakes, Lamb Stuffed Eggplants, Semolina and Butter pudding, and the queen of the mezze table, Red Pepper and Walnut Spread. Divided into 15 chapters (Basic Recipes, Appetizers and Mezze, Soups, Salads and Accompaniments, Grains, Fish, Poultry, Meat, Kibbeh, Stuffed Dishes, Vegetables, Stews, Bread, Desserts and Sweets, Pickles and Preserves, and Beverages), traditional cooking and preservation methods go hand-in-hand with modern combinations of flavors and today’s desire for healthful and natural meals. Wonderful full-color photography of the food, people, and markets of Aleppo make this a stunning cookbook, a great gift for food lovers, and a fitting tribute to a beautiful city and the suffering its people have endured.