Olives, Lemons & Za'atar

Olives, Lemons & Za'atar
Publisher: Kyle Books
Published Date : 13 February 2014
ISBN-13: 978-0857832306

Book Author(s):

Rawia Bishara

View the book page:

Olives, Lemons and Za'atar

Review by:

Maha Salah

Rawia Bishara's new cookbook Olives, Lemons & Za'atar is truly a reflection of the adaptability of Palestinians in the Diaspora. Her mixture of traditional and modern cuisine makes her book perfect for those wanting to cook Palestinian food anywhere in the world. It is great both for people who are already familiar with the flavours as it can be used as a base for basic Palestinian dishes to which they can add their own touch and tweak to their taste, as well as people who haven't really had these dishes and want to experiment.

Rawia's recipes stay true to the flavours of Palestinian cuisine, and it is clear that she has taken cues from her mother, but at the same time, her use of jalapenos, Brussels sprouts, and panko crumbs reflect the influences she has had from the countries she has lived in. Being a Palestinian, originally from Nazareth, living in the Diaspora in Brooklyn, Rawia, like many other Palestinians, has been forced into a position where she must make do with what she has in the countries she is living in. Although not all ingredients used in Palestinian cuisine are always accessible, she has found great substitutes that not only taste great, but sometimes even elevate the dish.

In 1998, Rawia opened her restaurant Tanoreen in Brooklyn, and throughout her book, she mentions that some of these recipes are popular or signature dishes in Tanoreen. I especially liked the fact that she has included some of her childhood stories and memories attached to some of the dishes as well as useful tips that both beginner and experienced cooks can benefit from. I tried a few of her recipes, including the Kafta with Tahini Sauce, Mutabal (eggplant spread with tomatoes and chilli peppers), and Harissa (semolina cake), and was really pleased with the outcome. The instructions were very clear and easy to follow. I was also happy that they were easy to adapt to my taste and to smaller portions. I do have to say that the portions are what you would call "Palestinian portions", although the book says it feeds four, you could probably feed almost double that number, which isn't a bad thing because you have plenty of leftovers for the next day.

Another great thing about this book is that it has over 100 recipes, so there is bound to be something for everyone. It is also great for vegetarians because in addition to many vegetarian recipes, there are others that can be adapted merely by leaving out the meat.

This book is highly recommended for anyone wanting to cook authentic Palestinian food with a twist. It's a book you can really sink your teeth into for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert.

Winners of the Palestine Book Awards

  • Places of Mind: A life of Edward Said
  • Except for Palestine: The limits of progressive politics
  • A history of Palestinian Islamic Jihad: Faith, awareness, and revolution in the middle east
  • Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands
  • Against the Loveless World
  • The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017
  • Life in a Country Album
  •  There Where You Are Not
  • The Parisan
  • Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine
  • Stone Men: The Palestinians who built Israel
  • Nabil Anani: Palestine, Land and People
  • Where the Bird Disappeared
  • In the Land of My Birth: A Palestinian Boyhood
  • Balfour in the Dock: J.M.N. Jeffries & the Case for the Prosecution
  • Brothers Apart: Palestinian citizens of Israel and the Arab world
  • The Great War and the Remaking of Palestine
  • On the Arab-Jew, Palestine, and other displacements
  • Gaza under Hamas: From Islamic Democracy to Islamist Governance
  • The Commander: Fawzi Al-Qawuqji and the fight for Arab Independence 1914-1948