Falastin: 3 Palestinian Recipes from Ottolenghi Head Chef Sami Tamimi’s New Cookbook
BY: CHRISTOBEL HASTINGS
Love to travel while you cook? Then transport yourself to Palestine with Falastin, the new cookbook by Ottolenghi head chef Sami Tamimi and food writer Tara Wigley.
In normal times, the publication of a new cookbook by Sami Tamimi – Yotam Ottolenghi’s longtime head chef and the co-author of Jerusalem and Ottolenghi: The Cookbook – would have been unmissable. But we’re not living in normal times, and so the release of Falastin (Ebury Press) on 26 March might have passed you by.
Our advice? Don’t let it. Co-authored by food writer Tara Wigley (who also co-wrote Ottolenghi Simple), Falastin is a beautifully relaxed, detailed and affectionate celebration of the Palestinian cuisine Tamimi grew up eating. Born and raised in Jerusalem, Tamimi gives an insider’s glimpse into the rich diversity of Middle Eastern food as the book journeys through his homeland.
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Along the way, the beautiful recipes are interwoven with stories from unheard Palestinian voices – transporting you from your kitchen counter to Bethlehem, East Jerusalem, Nablus, Jenin, Haifa, Akka, Nazareth, Galilee and across the West Bank.
To celebrate the release of the cookbook – and provide some much-needed culinary inspiration if your mealtimes are fast becoming repetitive – we’re bringing you three delicious recipes from Falastin, including musaqa’a (aubergine, chickpea and tomato bake), roasted cod with a coriander crust and labneh cheesecake with apricots, honey and cardamom.
Try them at home, sample the cuisine, then buy the book: sunnier days will be here before you know it.
AUBERGINE, CHICKPEA AND TOMATO BAKE (MUSAQA’A)
Echoes of the Greek dish moussaka are correctly heard here, both in the name and the feel of the dish. It’s a vegetarian take on the hearty, humble, healthy and completely delicious traybake.
It works well either as a veggie main or as a side with all sorts of things: piled into a jacket potato, for example, or served alongside some grilled meat, fish or tofu. It’s just the sort of dish you want to have in the fridge ready to greet you after a day out at work. It’s also lovely at room temperature, so it’s great to pile into the Tupperware for an on-the-go lunch.
Getting ahead: You can make and bake this in advance: it keeps in the fridge for up to 3 days, ready to be warmed through when needed.
Serves four as a main or six as a side
- 5 medium aubergines (1.25kg)
- 120ml olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped (160g)
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1½ tsp tomato purée
- 2 green peppers, deseeded and cut into 3cm chunks (200g)
- 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (240g)
- 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1½ tsp caster sugar
- 15g coriander, roughly chopped, plus 5g extra to serve
- 4 plum tomatoes, trimmed and sliced into 1½cm-thick rounds (350g)
- Salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220°C fan. Use a vegetable peeler to peel away strips of aubergine skin from top to bottom, leaving the aubergines with alternating strips of black skin and white flesh, like a zebra. Cut widthways into round slices, 2cm thick, and place in a large bowl.
Mix well with 75ml of oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper and spread out on two large parchment-lined baking trays. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until completely softened and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C fan.
While the aubergines are roasting, make the sauce. Put 2 tablespoons of oil into a large sauté pan and place on a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 7 minutes, until softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic, chilli, cumin, cinnamon and tomato purée and cook for another minute, or until fragrant.
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Add the peppers, chickpeas, tinned tomatoes, sugar, 200ml of water, 1¼ teaspoons of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 18 minutes, or until the peppers have cooked through. Stir in the coriander and remove from the heat.
Spread out half the plum tomatoes and half the roasted aubergines on the base of a large baking dish, about 20 x 30cm. Top with the chickpea mixture, then layer with the remaining tomatoes and aubergines.
Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil, then cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the tomatoes have completely softened.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 20 minutes. Top with the remaining coriander and serve either warm or at room temperature.