Palestinian chef Sami Tamimi has released his first solo recipe book as a “love letter” to his homeland.
“I wanted to do a book that’s all about the people and the place and the ingredients,” he told fans in a video call hosted by the Arab British Centre.
The long-time business partner of Yotam Ottolenghi is currently staying inside his London home, as all his restaurants have shut amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Tamimi is still cooking, however, for himself and his neighbours and has encouraged others to do the same. With writer Tara Wigley, he has created Falastin, a cookbook with 122 recipes.
Here are three to try yourself at home:
Aubergine, chickpea and tomato bake (Musaqa’a)
Serves four as a main or six as a side
5 medium aubergines
120ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp tomato puree
2 green peppers, deseeded and cut into 3cm chunks
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
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 to taste
- 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 saute 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 puree and cook for another minute, or until fragrant. 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.
1 chicken (about 1.7kg), divided into 4 pieces or 1kg chicken supremes (between 4 and 6, depending on size), skin on, if you prefer
120ml olive oil, plus 2 to 3 tbsp extra, to finish
1 tbsp ground cumin
3 tbsp sumac
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
30g pine nuts
3 large red onions, thinly sliced 2 to 3mm thick
4 taboon breads, or any flatbread (such as Arabic flatbread or naan bread)
5g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
300g Greek-style yoghurt
1 lemon, quartered
- Preheat the oven to 200°C fan.
- Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl with 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1½ teaspoons of sumac, the cinnamon, allspice, 1 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix well to combine, then spread out on a parchment-lined baking tray. Roast until the chicken is cooked through. This will take about 30 minutes if starting with supremes and up to 45 minutes if starting with the whole chicken, quartered. Remove from the oven and set aside. Don't discard any juices which have collected in the tray.
- Meanwhile, put 2 tablespoons of oil into a large saute pan, about 24cm, and place on a medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook for about 2–3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the nuts are golden brown. Transfer to a bowl lined with kitchen paper (leaving the oil behind in the pan) and set aside. Add the remaining 60ml of oil to the pan, along with the onions and ¾ teaspoon of salt. Return to a medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the onions are completely soft and pale golden but not caramelised.
- Add 2 tablespoons of sumac, the remaining 2 teaspoons of cumin and a grind of black pepper and mix through, until the onions are completely coated. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- When ready to assemble the dish, set the oven to a grill setting and slice or tear the bread into quarters or sixths. Place them under the grill for about 2 to 3 minutes, to crisp up, then arrange them on a large platter.
- Top the bread with half the onions, followed by all the chicken and any chicken juices left in the tray. Either keep each piece of chicken as it is or else roughly shred it as you plate up, into two or three large chunks. Spoon the remaining onions over the top and sprinkle with the pine nuts, parsley, 1½ teaspoons of sumac and a final drizzle of olive oil. Serve at once, with the yoghurt and a wedge of lemon alongside.
Sweet tahini rolls (Kubez el tahineh)
Makes 10 rolls
1½ tsp fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
110ml whole milk, lukewarm
300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
75g unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
Olive oil, for greasing
100g caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
- First make the dough. Put the yeast, sugar and milk into a small bowl and mix to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes, until it starts to get frothy.
- Meanwhile, put the flour and ½ teaspoon of salt into the bowl of a freestanding mixer, with the dough hook in place. Mix on a low speed, then slowly pour in the yeast mixture. Add the melted butter and continue to mix for about a minute.
- Add the egg, then increase the speed to medium and leave for 5 minutes, for the dough to get well kneaded. Using your hands, scrape the dough into a ball: it will be slightly sticky and elastic. Place it in a lightly oiled bowl, turning it a couple of times so that the dough gets well greased. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave to rest in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size.
- Put the sugar and cinnamon for the filling into a small bowl. Mix well to combine, then set aside.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 35 x 50cm. Drizzle the tahini over the dough, then, using the back of a spoon or a spatula, spread it out evenly, leaving 1cm clear of tahini at both the shorter ends. Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the tahini and leave for 10 minutes, until the sugar looks all wet.
- Starting from one of the long sides, roll the dough inwards to form a long, thin sausage. Trim away about 2cm from each end, then slice the dough into 10 equal pieces: they should each be just over 4½cm long.
- Sit each piece upright, so that its cut side is facing upwards, then, using your hands, gently flatten out to form an 8cm-wide circle. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 160°C fan.
- Transfer each roll of dough to a large parchment-lined baking tray, spaced 2 to 3cm apart. Brush all over – just the top and sides, not the base – with the egg yolk, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 18 minutes, or until cooked through and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside for about 20 minutes – you don't want them to be piping hot – then serve.
Falastin: A Cookbook by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley is out now (published by Ebury)
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