The New Book of Middle Eastern Food (Anglais) Relié – 26 septembre 2000
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In every Middle Eastern household, the making of yogurt is a regular activity -- at least it used to be. With a little experience one lears the rhythm of preparation and the exact warmth required to turn milk into yogurt. The actual preparation is extremely easy, but the right conditions as necessary for success. If these are fulfilled, the "magic" cannot fail.
Yogurt is an essential part of the Meiddle Eastern diet. In al-Baghdad's medieval manual it was referred to a "Persian milk." In Iran today it is known as mast, in Turkey as yogurt. Syrians and Lebanese call it laban, Egyptionas laban zabadi, whle Aremenians refer ito it as madzoon. In parts of the Middle East, as in the Balkans, yogurt is believed by some people to have medicinal and therapeutic qualities. Longevity and a strong constitution are attributed to a daily consumption.
More recently the Western world discovered the healthful qualities of yogurt, but it is too often restricted to a minor role as a dessert, usually sweetened or synthetically flavored. Yogurt has yet to be allowed the versatility it enjoys in the Middle East, where it is, in turn, a hot or cold soup, a salad, a marinade for meat, or the basic liquid element in a meat-and-vegetable dish. The West has still to discover the vast number of dishes which are refreshed, soothed, and glorified when accompanied by yogurt, and the splendid drink called ayran or abdug, which is a mixture of yogurt and water.
The best yogurt I have ever eaten was in Turkey. It was made with water buffalo's milk and was thick and deliciously rich and creamy. A good second is the thick sheep's-milk yogurt product of Greece, which has been drained of its whey.
To Make Yogurt
If yogurt is to be adopted as an important element in cookery, it is worth learning to make it at home. All sorts of equipment have been recommended as being required: cake pans lined with padding, feather cushions, thermometers, different-sized bottles, jars, corks, tops, to name but a few. Commercial firms sell sets of equipment, but you can do perfectly well without them. All that is needed is a large earthenware or glass bowl, a plate to cover it entirely or plastic wrap, and a small woolen blanket -- I use two shawls.
The proportions are1 heaping tablespoon of starter or activator (culture of the bacteria bulgaris) or fresh. Live yogurt (I use ordinary, commercial plain whole-milk yogurt) to each quart of whole milk. If you increae the quantity of milk, increase that of the starter accordingly, but do not use too much of the starter, or the new batch of yogurt will be excessively sour.
Bring the milk to the boil in a large pan. When the froth rises, lower the heat and let the milk barely simmer for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, and allow the milk to cool to the point where you can barely dip your fingers in and leave them there while you count to ten. Ten is the tradtitional count, but the milk must still be hot enough to sting. If you have a thermometer, the temperature should be 106-109 degress F. If the milk is much cooler or hotter than this, the yogurt is likely to fail.
Remove any skin that has formed on the surface of the milk. Beat the acticator or plain yogurt in a large glass or earthnware bowl until it is quite liquid. Add a few tablespoons of the hot milk, one at a time, beating vigorously, between all the additions. Then add the rest of the milk slowly, beating constantly, until thoroughly mixed.
Cover the bowl with a large plate or with plastic wrap. Wrap the whole bowl in a wooledn blanket or shawl and leave it undisturbed in a warm place, such as an airing cupboard, for at least 8 hous or overnight. It should then be ready, thick like a creamy custard. Do not leave the bowl in the warmth too long., or the yogurt will become too sour.
As soon as the yogurt is ready, you can cool it in the refrigerator. It will keep for a week, but it is preferable to make a new batch every 4 days, using some of the previous one as an actrivator.This will ensure a cconstant supply of sweet, fresh-tasting yogurt.
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Les recettes ont été mises à jour car tout à été traduit en grammes et litres et non plus en onces et pintes (bien que ces données soient toujours présentes pour les anglo-saxons).
Pour ceux qui apprécient la cuisine du Moyen-Orient ce livre doit être constamment à vos cotés avec une place spéciale dans votre cuisine.
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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!
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. This is `the ancient source of much of the `haute cuisine' of the Middle East'. This is the route by which rice from India passed into the Middle East and the West.
The second region is roughly the Arab lands now formed into the states of Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. This is where Arab food is at it's best. This includes the Fertile Crescent, which is actually in modern Iraq.
The third region is Turkey, or more broadly, the area influenced by the former Ottoman Empire. This presence had its influence most felt in Europe, especially the Balkans, Hungary, Greece, Russia, North Africa, and even Austria and France. This is the source of kebabs, savory pies, yogurt salads, and paper-thin dough.
The fourth style is the cuisine of North Africa, extending as far West as Morocco on the Atlantic coast of Africa. The strongest native influence here is in couscous from the Berber nomads who collaborated with the Arabs in conquering southern Spain. This region also retains some of the strongest echoes of the cuisines of ancient Persia and Baghdad.
The recipes are divided by the type of central ingredient in dishes, but certain ingredients, most especially olives and olive oil, yogurt, citrus fruits, bulgar wheat, rice, eggplant, and lamb pervade all sections. I was just a bit surprised to find that like the Indian cuisine, clarified butter plays a large role as the `lipid of choice' in this region, keeping parity with olive oil in most regions.
The recipe sections in this book are:
Appetizers, Salads, and Cold Vegetables such as Stuffed Grape Leaves, Falafel, and Baba Ghanouj
Yogurt, including very simple instructions on how to make yogurt at home
Savory Pies including Tagine Malsouka, Spanakopitta, and many other Filo based pies
Soups, including those of lentils, chickpeas, fava beans, spinach, and carrots
Egg Dishes, featuring omelets very similar to the Italian frittata or Spanish tortilla
Fish and Seafood, including marinades, kebabs, and North African seafood
Poultry, featuring pigeons, squabs, quail, ducks, and many varieties of chicken dishes
Meat Dishes featuring lamb, the famous shish kebab, moussaka, meatballs, and sweetmeats
Vegetables, featuring artichokes, spinach, zucchini, eggplant, okra, sweet potatoes, and chickpeas
Rice, featuring pilafs and rice with favas, dates, yogurt, chickpeas, cherries, lentils, and rhubarb
Bulgur, Couscous, and Pasta featuring bulgar pilafs, methods for making couscous, and noodles
Breads, featuring pita, pita, and pita
Desserts, Pastries, and Sweetmeats featuring citrus fruits, apricots, nuts, cherries, dates, and baklawa
Pickles and Preserves featuring preserved lemons, pickled vegetables, chili and tomato sauce
Jams and Fruit Preserves featuring citrus, peaches, walnuts, pumpkins, figs, quinces, and eggplant
Drinks and Sherbet featuring Lemonade, Laban (Yogurt Drink), coffee, tea, almond milk
As one may expect, New World vegetables are present, but not as pervasive as in Italian cuisine.
One can see much of this food at the heart of the perceived to be healthy `Mediterranean Cuisine' plus echoes in raw food preparation and in the cuisines of such luminaries with a Mediterranean background such as Eric Ripert. This book did exacerbate my confusion over the term `Meze'. The Greek food expert Diane Kochilas states that it refers only to small dishes served with ouzo and other alcoholic beverages separate from sit down meals. Roden confirms the connection with ouzo but identifies it with dishes opening a meal. I guess it depends on which country you talk to. Sigh.
This book is a certifiable classic, especially for those interested in food in general or in Middle Eastern food in particular. The bibliography is an excellent jumping off point for exploring this cuisine. Also, the sidebars of Middle Eastern stories are a real hoot. You will not be disappointed.
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.
Read the how to use this book to help you navigate through the book as it is a bit confusing at first. The recipes are generally good although I disagree on some of the short cuts and substitutions (for example I have always known Muhammara to contain roasted red peppers and not tomato paste) but overall it is the most authentic book that I have been able to find.