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Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey Paperback – May 14, 2004

19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Iranian-born Batmanglij, author of several other books on Persian food, has spent a good part of the last 25 years traveling the ancient "Silk Road," the spice and trade route from China through the Middle East to Italy. Because of economic realities, the fare native to those countries has been vegetable-based, so Batmanglij concentrates on that here, though her book will certainly appeal to nonvegetarians as well. She presents diverse and wide-ranging recipes, both familiar and exotic, from Alexandrian Spicy Fava Bean Spread to Afghan Garlic Chive Ravioli, among many others, set against a background of culinary and cultural history. More than 250 color photographs, including some great portraits of people whom Batmanglij met in her travels, furnish additional context. Strongly recommended.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

SILK ROAD COOKING: A VEGETARIAN JOURNEY (Mage Publishers, $35) is like a good novel once you start, it's hard to put down. It is ideal for those who like to read cookbooks as much as cook from them....The recipes also pack a punch. I served Levantine pilaf in pastry at a party and felt a genuine thrill as I cut into the golden dome of phyllo encasing a filling of vermicelli and rice flecked with apricots, almonds and raisins and seasoned with cinnamon, cardamom and rosewater...." --The New York Times

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mage Publishers (May 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0934211965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0934211963
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 8.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #790,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Najmieh Batmanglij was born and raised in Iran. During her childhood, her mother wouldn't allow her in the kitchen. "Concentrate on your education," she would say. "There will be plenty of time for you to cook later in life."

Najmieh came to America in the 1960s to study at university and would cook Persian food with fresh local produce using recipes sent by her mother in letters. Her housemates loved the food she made and encouraged her to cook all the more. Little did she know that the American food revolution had just begun. Later, when Najmieh returned to Iran with her master's degree in education in hand, her mother welcomed her into the kitchen and started to work with her.

At the end of 1979, as the Iranian Revolution took a more fundamentalist turn, Najmieh and her husband fled to France, where their first son Zal was born.

It was in France that Najmieh decided to follow her passion for cooking. With the help of her friends and neighbors, she wrote her first cookbook, Ma Cuisine d'Iran.

In 1983 she and her husband emigrated to America, where she gave birth to their second son, Rostam, and wrote her first book in English, Food of Life.

Najmieh has spent the past 35 years cooking, traveling, and adapting authentic Persian recipes to tastes and techniques in the West. She has been hailed as "the guru of Persian cuisine" by The Washington Post. Her Food of Life was called "the definitive book on Iranian cooking" by the Los Angeles Times. Her Silk Road Cooking was selected as one of the 10 best vegetarian cookbooks of 2004 by The New York Times; and her book From Persia to Napa: Wine at the Persian Table won the Gourmand Cookbook Award for the best wine history book of 2007.

Najmieh is a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier and lives in Washington, DC, where she teaches Persian cooking, and consults with restaurants around the world.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 58 people found the following review helpful By "cakirogn" on September 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I was fascinated by all the earlier books by Mrs. Batmanglij but her latest book has a special place in my heart. I cannot do enough to highlight this book's difference from the majority of other cookbooks that are out there.
This is not only a flawless book with a vegetarian approach, but its approach is one of great originality: The beautiful recipes are accompanied by even more beautiful pictures and stories of the land and its people. It leaves us with so many great choices to try, designed to fit any situation: Georgian Stuffed Tomatoes for a warm a fall evening, and Sweet and Sour soup for a cold winter night.
Unlike many other cookbooks, this book takes us to the world it is borrowing its recipes from: the Silk Road, a world where different culinary cultures are and have been connected to each other, crossing the mountains and deserts of Central Asia to connect East Asia and the Mediterranean. In a way not known to many of us, the Silk Road was an important cultural crossroads and this book celebrates that.
Get this book, and you will not only have gotten a great cookbook with recipes of wonderful tasting recipes covering a great part of the world, but you will also be exposed to a beautiful culture - more so a mix of many cultures- that you will be able to see through the beautifully placed stories and pictures.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Marlyne Sahakian on September 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is simply magical and quite unique. It carries you on a timeless culinary journey from Genoa to Shanghai, weaving in the mystical writings of Rumi, beautiful pictures of local people, anecdotes that make the rich heritage of the Silk Road come to life, and recipes with pictures that -- well, you just might start smelling the pages.
This is my third cook book by Mrs Batmanglij and I'm so happy to finally have a vegetarian approach to some Middle Eastern and oriental recipes. Not only will you learn about wonderful and creative dishes, you are guaranteed a flawless recipe, uncomplicated and easy to follow.
Get ready to take a long and wonderful journey with every bite. You'll be under the spell the second you open the book...
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By M. Strawn on July 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
The author obviously spent a great deal of time researching the book, as it is full of not only fascinating recipes, but descriptions of their history, legends of the Silk Road, and a great array of photos of the dishes and of various culinary practices of the highlighted cultures. Great fun to skim through even when you're not prepared to cook anything.

Everything I've made from the book has been delicious. That being said, there are numerous recipes with ingredients that are either difficult to find outside of the region the dish is from (such as unripe grapes), or ones that will take up space in your pantry forever because you only use them for one or two recipes (pomegranate paste, ground angelica petals, and so on). A free hand with substitutions is vital and fortunately the author has provided details about this in the glossary in the back.

This book is a great accompaniment to the first CD in The Silk Road: A Musical Caravan
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By xiaopo huang on September 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Najmieh Batmanglij's Silk Road Cooking is a valuable addition to the great treasure house of Silk Road culture. With remarkable insight, a wealth of facinating information combined with beautifully nuanced stories of the land and its people, the author takes us along with her on this most rewarding journey of culinary discovery.
I have the pleasure of collecting all of Najmieh's cook books over the years, and I have tried many of her recipes in this and other books with joy and pride. In this book, the Silk Road is not a fabled tale of exchanges of wealth between the East and the West, but something we can see, we can touch and we can taste! In a cool night, make yourself a bowl of that simple and cozy Beijing Hot& sour noodle soup; or try Persian noodle soup garnished with garlic, onion, mint and yogurt, my favourate winter treat. To your perfect lunch/dinner party, complete it with Najemieh's Georgian rice salad with tart cherries or Amoli rice salad with barberries. They are easy to make, pretty to look at, taste wonderful, and they are absolutely great crowd-pleasers at any parties.
Get the book, try the recipes yourself and you will get that I-can-do-it-too joy and pride.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Linda Hedrick on February 25, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is delicious! There are excellent photos of both the dishes and the different areas and peoples of the Silk Road, The text is interesting, with information about history, cultures, cooking techniques, and food items. I appreciate that the recipes are not complicated or particularly labor-intensive. I have tried three so far, and all three were hits. I have a large collection of cookbooks, but if I had to start all over again, this one would be one of my first buys.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ruth Seidler on January 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am grateful to this book and its author. First, it offers seductive and splendid recipes which are clear and have resulted in wonderful meals. Additionally, it is an introduction to the food cultures of these many regions, and clarifies to some extent the distinctions and also the ways culinary approaches and ingredients have moved through cultures.

So far I have been most intrigued by the Persian dishes and had a VERY successful dinner party featuring the cauliflower kuku (a spicy fritata-sort of dish), the Shirazi saffron polow with spinach(a baked dish with layers of rice and spinach with prunes and pine nuts, held together with a fragrant saffron custard that has bits of candied orange peel). I served these with the pomegranate and cucumber salad, and followed up with the wonderful pistachio cake (subtly flavored with rose water and orange zest). Everyone was very happy and well-fed.

I have tried other recipes in the book, too, and always been pleased. Enjoy. And begin to feel more connected to the great big world.
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