Israel is a country I would so love to visit. The history would be amazing (obviously) but I also would love to gorge myself on its many delicious cuisine offerings. Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food is one of my favorites and from what I’ve read and heard, Israel seems like one of the most amazing culinary destinations out there.
For my recent birthday I was given the cookbook Jerusalem by famed chef Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Both men were born in Jerusalem the same year-Ottolenghi in the Jewish west section and Tamimi on the Arab east side. The cookbook is a collaboration between Ottolenghi and Tamimi in which they explore the diverse cuisine of their city, a cuisine so heavily influenced by the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities there. The cookbook is beautiful-besides being hardback (always a classier look I feel), it also features stunning photographs of the city, its people, and of course its food.
From my initial perusing, none of the recipes look overly difficult, however, a great deal appear to be rather time consuming. But it’s one of those cookbooks that even if you only ever make a few things from it, it’s a great book to have in your collection. I’ve just enjoyed gazing at the many beautiful photographs, many of which are making me want to travel to Jerusalem tomorrow. The first recipe I tried out was Sabih which the authors note isn’t actually a Jerusalem dish but one that was developed by Iraqi Jews who settled in an area near Tel Aviv in the 1950s. They go on to say that the dish is the perfect representation of the extreme culinary diversity of the region. Arab, Sephardic, Indian, Yemeni-it’s all there.
recipe via Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
2 large eggplants
1 1/4 cups sunflower oil (I used standard olive oil)
4 slices good-quality white bread, toasted, or fresh and moist mini pitas
1 cup Tahini sauce
4 large free-range eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and cut into 3/8 inch thick slices or quartered
about 4 tbsp Zhoug (Israel’s national chili paste). Click here for a recipe
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
2 mini cucumbers, diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tbso chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
-Cut both eggplants width wise into slices 1 inch thick. Sprinkle them on both sides with salt, then spread them out on a baking sheet and let stand for at least 30 minutes to remove some water. Use paper towels to wipe them.
-Heat the oil in a wide frying pan. Carefully-the oil splits, fry the eggplant slices in batches until nice and dark, turning once, 6-8 minutes total. Add oil if needed as you cook the batches. When done, the eggplant pieces should be completely tender in the center. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.
-Make the chopped salad by mixing together all the ingredients and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
-Just before serving, place 1 slice of bread of pita on each plate. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the tahini sauce over each slice, then arrange the eggplant slices on top, overlapping,. Drizzle over some more tahini but without completely covering the eggplant slices. Season each egg slice with salt and pepper and arrange over the eggplant. Drizzle some more tahini on top and spoon over as much zhoug as you like. Serve the vegetable salad on the side, spooning some on top of every serving if desired.