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The New Book of Middle Eastern Food Hardcover – September 26, 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Claudia Roden has updated and expanded her popular 1968 cookbook for a more savvy and knowledgeable audience. While still filled with old favorites, the third edition acknowledges food processors and other handy kitchen tools, as well as this generation's preference for lower-fat recipes. Not that every recipe is changed; many are not, but Roden does attempt not to rely too much on butter and oils.

Begin your meal with mezze, derived from the Arabic t'mazza, meaning "to savor in little bites." Try Cevisli Biber (Roasted Pepper and Walnut Paste) spread on warm pita bread. Serve with Salata Horiatiki (Greek Country Salad) and then move on to a main dish of Roast Fish with Lemon and Honeyed Onions or Lamb Tagine with Artichokes and Fava Beans. The cookbook wouldn't be complete without sections on rice, couscous, and bulgur--try Addis Polow (Rice with Lentils and Dates) or Kesksou Bidaoui bel Khodra (Beber Couscous with Seven Vegetables). Finish with a traditional dessert like Orass bi Loz (Almond Balls).

Mixed in with the recipes are Roden's personal experiences as a cook and recipe archivist, and Middle Eastern tales that illustrate the history of a particular recipe or food group. "It was once believed olive oil could cure any illness except the one by which a person was fated to die," Roden writes. "People still believe in its beneficial qualities and sometimes drink it neat when they feel anemic of tired." She also includes a detailed introduction to the terrain, history, politics, and society of the Middle East so her readers can more fully understand why the cuisine has evolved the way it has. "Cooking in the Middle East is deeply traditional and nonintellectual," she says, "an inherited art." It's our good fortune to inherit such a rich tradition. --Dana Van Nest

From Publishers Weekly

When Roden published The Book of Middle Eastern Food in 1972, the cuisines of Morocco, Turkey, Greece, Egypt and their neighbors were mysteries in this country. Today, their fresh flavors are better known, and much loved, and Roden has expanded and updated her classic to meet modern needs. The new version includes more than 800 recipes, as well as folk tales, tips, anecdotes and just about all the information anyone needs to reproduce foods from that part of the world. Miraculously, Roden manages to be this thorough while never sacrificing her personal toneDthis is a book that is both encyclopedic and intimate. Much of Middle Eastern food is light tasting and vegetable-based, and the recipes reflect these qualities without neglecting more complex and unusual preparations. A chapter on appetizers and salads includes a Moroccan Lettuce and Orange Salad, Tabbouleh, Lemony Chicken Jelly and even a Brain Salad. While Roden is no stickler for starting from scratch, she always provides plenty of options for those who wish to do so. In a section on yogurtDa key ingredient in many recipes, such as Tagliatelle with Yogurt and Fried Onions, and Chickpeas with Yogurt and Soaked BreadDshe gives both guidelines for buying yogurt and instructions for making your own. A sub-section on Persian sauces for rice is outstanding, as is another on stuffed eggplants. Desserts include Egyptian "Bread-and-Butter" Pudding and Arab Pancakes with various filings. Roden won a James Beard award for The Book of Jewish Food in 1997. She will certainly be in the running once more with this impressive work. 24 pages of color photos. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; Revised edition (September 26, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375405062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375405068
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.6 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I lived in the Middle East for 3 years and grew to love Egyptian, Turkish, Moroccan, and Arabian foods. I ordered 5 middle eastern cookbooks including this Roden volume(to add to my collection which includes 3 others) when I ordered a tagine cooker from Amazon. I could have only ordered this one! It has everything: explanations of ingredients, easy ways to cook and serve the dishes, and my fav recipes.
I was so surprised to see its comprehensiveness. It had the wonderful snake pastry (snake shape, not ingredient!) of Morocco, and gave ingredient amounts befitting a party crowd. Favorite tagine lamb dishes, boreks, kibbie (kibbeh), yogurtlu-steeped meat dishes called to mind many delightful authentic culinary experiences. I even laughed to read both stories I had been told about the dish which killed the priest. And I learned new ones, ie the Sultan's dish story.
I was also delighted by the tone of the book, comments, adjustments for the modern kitchen, and the stories included in the pages. Mullah Nazruddhin Hoja tales have been a standard in my household, and the inclusion of some of his snippets are being relished.
A Persian poet once said: If I have but two dollars, let me use one to buy a loaf of bread to feed my body and the other for a hyacinth to feed my soul. This cookbook has both cuisine - sensual Arabic foods for the body and stuff for the soul.
Need one Middle Eastern cookbook? This is the one! Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Let me start out by simply saying: BUY THIS BOOK!! Almost 10 years ago, I stumbled on a worn out much-abridged paperback version of her original book. I bought it on a lark and was immediately brought back to my grandmothers kitchen and weekend family meals. As a second generation Middle Eastern male, I never really had any type of training in the kitchen let alone recipes to follow...this book proved to be an immense help to me...it helped me rediscover my lost heritage of Lebanese home-cooking.
From years of use and more use, my paperback copy has had so many spills and accidents that it is almost falling apart. When I saw that they re-published the book, I bought it immediately.
As the opener states, Claudia Roden is to Middle Eastern cuisine what Julia Child is to French. She manages to give a history, a story, and a recipe all without seeming disjointed or breaking stride. Her directions are clear and concise and the measures, times, and ingredient amounts all work...something a few cookbook authors have yet to master!
Another factor in recommending this book is that Ms Roden's approach was to take a comprehensive look at Middle Eastern food. She included everything from the Atlantic coast of Africa to the Gulf States and on to Iran...most books in this genre only include recipes from one or two countries. She also takes dishes and gives them regional spins (ie: making a traditional Lebanese dish and then showing variations which give it a more Morrocan flavor or Iranian, etc).
I sing the highest praises of Ms Roden and her book. It is a true masterpiece and should be included in any household library of someone who enjoys eating.
Buy the book and eat well!
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Format: Hardcover
Claudia Roden is one of the three great ladies of Mediterranean food writing, joining Elizabeth David and Paula Wolfert to make this cuisine one of the best reported centers of food interest in the English speaking world. The three connect in this book by Ms. David's being the avowed inspiration for Rodin's work and by Claudia Roden's citing Paula Wolfert's excellent book on couscous and referring to one of her other major works in the bibliography. It is also worth noting another literary connection in that the Alfred A. Knopf editor for this book is the acclaimed Judith Jones, the editor for Julia Child's landmark first books on French cuisine. While all of that makes this a noteworthy book with `good connections', it is not what makes the book worth buying.
As the title suggests, this book is a new and greatly revised edition of a volume first published in 1968. In this edition, much academic material, i.e. recipes derived from translations of old historical documents has been replaced and augmented by newer material from the Middle East. Ms. Roden clearly states that this is not a work of scholarship, but one should not take from that the feeling that these recipes are not the real thing. I am certain that like Ms. Wolfert, they are genuinely Middle Eastern recipes, made useable by the modern American or English cook.
The meaning of `Middle Eastern' in the title may not be exactly what a geographer or historian may mean by `Middle Eastern' or roughly from Turkey to Egypt to Iran. Ms. Roden means primarily the region covered by the greatest advance of the Muslim rule and influence in the European Middle ages. Her four principle regions of concentration are:
The earliest and `the most exquisite and refined' is that of Persia, now Iran.
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By Robyn on December 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I decided not to duplicate the heavy American tradition of the Thanksgiving dinner this Christmas. A good substitute seemed to be to go to the source of Christmas: the Middle East. I checked Claudia Roden's book out of the library. At home, I already had other books with this type of cuisine - Armenian, North African, and the slightly variant Italian - all full of luscious photography which is lacking in Roden's book. In spite of that, in comparing the recipes, many of which were duplicated in the various books, hers were almost always the best. I have been in Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, and know authenticity when I see it. Her explanations are detailed, yet clear. If you follow them, you will wind up with results that I feel confident would be applauded in the countries of origin, countries where food preparation and consumption is almost a mystical experience.
For those reasons, I am going to break down and buy the book myself. I can't bear to lose it to the library. I am giving it 4 stars instead of 5 only for one reason. In my opinion, a cookbook can't be truly complete without a great deal more pictures than are in this book. (It has 491 pages of text and 24 pages of pictures.) If you have been to the countries where these recipes arose, your mind will remember how those dishes looked that you sampled there. Otherwise, you'll need a few supplementary picture books - or make the dishes blind and with confidence that by following the instructions, the results will be right.
PS - the Christmas dinner was extremely well received. It was served as a buffet and was unusually easy entertaining due to the large number of cold dishes in this cuisine which could be prepared in advance.
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