May 2, 2015

Book Review: The Lebanese Cookbook by Hussein Dekmak

Lebanese food is well known in the UK, where chef Hussien Dekmak lives, but less so here in the US. The Lebanese Cookbook makes delicious Lebanese cuisine approachable for home cooks everywhere though. With pictures so gorgeous the reader might get sidetracked into ogling instead of cooking, it displays both photographs of the delectable food described and glimpses of the Lebanese way of life.

Lebanese food is generally served up family-style, with lots of dishes and flavorings on the table, allowing guests to make their own meals. So The Lebanese Cookbook is full of recipes that are mostly a cinch to prepare and combine. A few require ingredients available online or in specialized Middle Eastern stores (such as grape leaves and sumac), but many boast common and easy-to-find ingredients, such as cilantro, cumin, nuts and garlic, assorted legumes, eggplant, fish and lamb.

Moujadara photo found here.
Including simple salads such as the salatit malfouf abiad (white cabbage salad), Lebanese classics such as moujadara (lentils and rice with crispy onions) and more time-consuming challenges such as moulokhia bil dajaj (Jew's mallow* with chicken), The Lebanese Cookbook offers a variety of recipes that are generally easy enough for even beginner cooks but provides a few challenges for those already familiar with Lebanese cooking.

The cookbook's slim size means it will fit easily on any bookshelf, but its cheerful, bright cover won't let it be forgotten.  It was such a pretty cookbook that I'm willing to branch out, and try Lebansese again.

I (unfortunately) am a fairly picky eater. A dozen years ago in London, I reluctantly let myself be dragged to a Lebanese restaurant by a more adventurous friend. He got some vegetarian thing, but I made the mistake of getting "pizza". It had no cheese, but rather a bunch of greens and meats on a flatbread, sorta like the kebabs you get from street vendors in France. I asked the restaurant owner several times what kind of meat it was... but he just kept saying "Lebanese meat!" "Lebanese meat!" I'm pretty sure it was goat or lamb... but I don't know for sure. And that was the last time I actually ate Lebanese food!

Are YOU a picky eater?

I originally wrote most of this review for Shelf Awareness. And the post contains my affiliate links. Also, yes, I am embarrassed by what a picky eater I was/am. (Although I'm MUCH better these days, ask my mom!)

*Some googling informs me this is a bitter, leafy green, also known as "Egyptian spinach".