Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen

Norton. Feb. 2019. 256p. photos. index. ISBN 9781324002628. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781324002635. COOKING
For many, Palestinian cuisine remains a mystery. How does it compare to other Levantine traditions? What is authentic considering the region's unique political situation? Khan (The Saffron Tales) offers a practical look at several food scenes in the Occupied Territories, including Jerusalem, Haifa, and Bethlehem. A former aid worker, the author visited the area several times while writing this book. The focus here is on home cooking, but Khan also takes inspiration from restaurants and specialty shops. Interspersed among the recipes are thoughtful profiles of various cities, which give a glimpse of life in Palestine, including how people shop, cook, and eat. While Khan is honest about the difficulties, this is an optimistic book that celebrates the culture. Recipes emphasize local ingredients and include freekah with butternut squash and kale; Gazan beef, chickpeas and Swiss chard; and semolina and rosewater slice. There are also versions of well-known dishes, such as hummus, baklava, and chicken schawarma.
VERDICT Closer to Joudie Kalla's recent Palestine on a Plate, but with a more modern approach, providing a more accessible take than Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem, this is an excellent choice for home cooks interested in the region.

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