The New Book of Middle Eastern Food
The New Book of Middle Eastern Food

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Claudia Roden has updated and expanded her popular 1968 cookbook for a more savvy and knowledgeable audience. While still filled with old favorites, the third edition acknowledges food processors and other handy kitchen tools, as well as this generation's preference for lower-fat recipes. Not that every recipe is changed; many are not, but Roden does attempt not to rely too much on butter and oils.

Begin your meal with mezze, derived from the Arabic t'mazza, meaning "to savor in little bites." Try Cevisli Biber (Roasted Pepper and Walnut Paste) spread on warm pita bread. Serve with Salata Horiatiki (Greek Country Salad) and then move on to a main dish of Roast Fish with Lemon and Honeyed Onions or Lamb Tagine with Artichokes and Fava Beans. The cookbook wouldn't be complete without sections on rice, couscous, and bulgur--try Addis Polow (Rice with Lentils and Dates) or Kesksou Bidaoui bel Khodra (Beber Couscous with Seven Vegetables). Finish with a traditional dessert like Orass bi Loz (Almond Balls).

Mixed in with the recipes are Roden's personal experiences as a cook and recipe archivist, and Middle Eastern tales that illustrate the history of a particular recipe or food group. "It was once believed olive oil could cure any illness except the one by which a person was fated to die," Roden writes. "People still believe in its beneficial qualities and sometimes drink it neat when they feel anemic of tired." She also includes a detailed introduction to the terrain, history, politics, and society of the Middle East so her readers can more fully understand why the cuisine has evolved the way it has. "Cooking in the Middle East is deeply traditional and nonintellectual," she says, "an inherited art." It's our good fortune to inherit such a rich tradition. --Dana Van Nest

In this updated and greatly enlarged edition of her Book of Middle Eastern Food, Claudia Roden re-creates a classic. The book was originally published here in 1972 and was hailed by James Beard as "a landmark in the field of cookery"; this new version represents the accumulation of the author's thirty years of further extensive travel throughout the ever-changing landscape of the Middle East, gathering recipes and stories.

Now Ms. Roden gives us more than 800 recipes, including the aromatic variations that accent a dish and define the country of origin: fried garlic and cumin and coriander from Egypt, cinnamon and allspice from Turkey, sumac and tamarind from Syria and Lebanon, pomegranate syrup from Iran, preserved lemon and harissa from North Africa. She has worked out simpler approaches to traditional dishes, using healthier ingredients and time-saving methods without ever sacrificing any of the extraordinary flavor, freshness, and texture that distinguish the cooking of this part of the world.

Throughout these pages she draws on all four of the region's major cooking styles:
????????-????????The refined haute cuisine of Iran, based on rice exquisitely prepared and embellished with a range of meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts
????????-????????Arab cooking from Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan--at its finest today, and a good source for vegetable and bulgur wheat dishes
????????-????????The legendary Turkish cuisine, with its kebabs, wheat and rice dishes, yogurt salads, savory pies, and syrupy pastries
????????-????????North African cooking, particularly the splendid fare of Morocco, with its heady mix of hot and sweet, orchestrated to perfection in its couscous dishes and tagines

From the tantalizing mezze--those succulent bites of filled fillo crescents and cigars, chopped salads, and stuffed morsels, as well as tahina, chickpeas, and eggplant in their many guises--to the skewered meats and savory stews and hearty grain and vegetable dishes, here is a rich array of the cooking that Americans embrace today. No longer considered exotic--all the essential ingredients are now available in supermarkets, and the more rare can be obtained through mail order sources (readily available on the Internet)--the foods of the Middle East are a boon to the home cook looking for healthy, inexpensive, flavorful, and wonderfully satisfying dishes, both for everyday eating and for special occasions.

From the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews:

  • A Delectable Read
    Although I've never met the great woman, I can honestly say that I grew up in Claudia Roden's kitchen. My mother adhered to the sacred culinary tenets that Ms. Roden set out in her 'Book of Middle Eastern Food' with religious zeal. The results were (what else?) subime. Yet after twenty years of wear, tear, and the best babaganoush you'll ever taste, we retired our tattered paperback copy of the book to the safety of a ziploc baggie and upgraded to Ms. Roden's 'New Book of Middle Eastern Food.' Here Ms. Roden disproves the old adage about gilding the lily. Enhanced by gorgeous color photos and the author's characteristically unpretentious attitude towards cooking, 'The New Book of Middle Eastern Food' is as much a cookbook as it is a culinary ethnography of the Middle East. The recipes are simple, the ingredients are accessible, and the results are delectable. When you're not cookinng out of this book, you'll probably be enjoying the explanations, comments, and characters to which Ms. Roden introduces us....more info
  • Great reference to Middle Eastern Cooking
    Middle eastern food often will vary in it's name and origin, from one country to the next based on a few interchanging spices and ingredients. One of the things that I liked about this book is that it gave suggestions to alter the ethnicity by slightly changing some of the ingredients, turning it from Egyptian for example to Lebanese. The books first 50 pages are a Middle_eastern culinary lesson in the history and evolution of Middle-Eastern food.

    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.

    ...more info
  • The Only Middle Eastern Cookbook You'll Ever Need
    I bought three middle eastern cookbooks from I wish that I had saved my money and only bought this one! This book is truly complete with hundreds of recipes and makes preparation of these recipes so easy. Roden includes history, helpful hints and much, much more. I probably sound like her publisher, but I'm just an appreciative cook from Northern California. This book has it all. Buy this and forget the rest!...more info
  • excelent cookbook
    This book reminded me f all the food I had growing up. The book also does a great job of reviewing the backgorund fo the food and gives a personal touch about each recipe. If there is one middle eastern cookbook to have - this one is it!...more info
  • Book poorly bound and falling apart.
    I would just like to say that the content of the book is very good and we have enjoyed a few of the recipes but unfortunatly the book is falling apart.

    Yours Peter Edwards....more info
  • A Good Introduction to Middle Eastern Cooking
    Claudia Rodens had written many great cookbooks and this is one of them. Since she grew up in Egypt, many of the recipes are Egyptian which is a welcome change from many Middle Eastern cookbooks which tend to focus on the more widely spread Lebanese cuisine. My only problem with this book is she virtually skips over the entire Arabian gulf region. A good book to buy all in all.. ...more info
  • Complete source for Middle Eastern cuisine!
    This book is great. I read the entire thing, cover to cover, when it arrived. I've flagged so many recipes that I want to try, and those that I've tried already have been great. The recipes are surprisingly easy and uncomplicated -- not too many specialty ingredients required. Rosen has great style and a wonderful voice for leading the cook through these recipes. ...more info
  • Great cookbook!
    We bought this cookbook upon the recommendation of a good friend and have been thrilled with it. The recipes yield delicious food and they are not difficult. Roden includes tons of interesting information about the origins of each dish and the ingredients used and while some of the dishes take a while to make, they are worth it! This is a great addition to our cookbook collection and one of our favorites in it!...more info
  • An exeptional book
    I was really satisfied with this book. It is packed full of information about the Middle East and it is addictive to read, filled with a plethora of information and recipes[ literally hundreds of them].The organisation of the book is beautiful and never bores you.The recipes are really tasty and varied as the land itself. From the fragrant stews of Marocco on to the luxurius Francophoenician cuisine of Lebanon, the fiery tastes of Tunisia and the Imperial flavours of Persia.I have tried many recipes, and all were very good.Not one of them dissappointed me.There are simple step by step instructions and even an introduction to each dish.Why then 4 stars? To start with there are only a few photographs in the book.To finish, many recipes are presented as Turkish, while in fact they are Greek, Armenian or Syrian.A trivial thing to some but historical accuracy is important to me. ...more info
  • Simply the best
    I have yet to find/try a less than tasty recipe from this clearly written cookbook, made more charming by Ms. Roden's descriptions of the farflung settings where she first tasted particular dishes. Moreover, her ingredients are fairly common, so I don't have to run to a mideast grocery store before proceding. What makes her recipes uncommon is the inventive combination of ingredients, so that fairly familiar dishes (such as lentil soup) always surprise. Because her recipes are straightforward, require a minimum of ingredients, and always seem to garnish kudos from my eaters, I have given this book to many beginning to sophisticated cooks. If one had to choose only one cookbook of middle eastern food, this would be mine for a lifetime....more info
  • must haven middle eastern food.
    This book is very good. Simple instructions, best results. Get this one....more info
  • all my fav middle eastern recipes!
    I lived in the Middle East for 3 years and grew to love Egyptian, Turkish, Moroccan, and Arabian foods. I ordered 5 middle eastern cookbooks including this Roden volume(to add to my collection which includes 3 others) when I ordered a tagine cooker from Amazon. I could have only ordered this one! It has everything: explanations of ingredients, easy ways to cook and serve the dishes, and my fav recipes.
    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....more info
  • The Best
    I decided not to duplicate the heavy American tradition of the Thanksgiving dinner this Christmas. A good substitute seemed to be to go to the source of Christmas: the Middle East. I checked Claudia Roden's book out of the library. At home, I already had other books with this type of cuisine - Armenian, North African, and the slightly variant Italian - all full of luscious photography which is lacking in Roden's book. In spite of that, in comparing the recipes, many of which were duplicated in the various books, hers were almost always the best. I have been in Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, and know authenticity when I see it. Her explanations are detailed, yet clear. If you follow them, you will wind up with results that I feel confident would be applauded in the countries of origin, countries where food preparation and consumption is almost a mystical experience.

    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....more info

  • Culinary Atlas of Arab, Persian, Berber, and Ottoman Worlds
    Claudia Roden is one of the three great ladies of Mediterranean food writing, joining Elizabeth David and Paula Wolfert to make this cuisine one of the best reported centers of food interest in the English speaking world. The three connect in this book by Ms. David's being the avowed inspiration for Rodin's work and by Claudia Roden's citing Paula Wolfert's excellent book on couscous and referring to one of her other major works in the bibliography. It is also worth noting another literary connection in that the Alfred A. Knopf editor for this book is the acclaimed Judith Jones, the editor for Julia Child's landmark first books on French cuisine. While all of that makes this a noteworthy book with `good connections', it is not what makes the book worth buying.

    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....more info

  • So glad I found it!
    This book is full of family favorites (some we have never even gotten around to trying), and stood amid the favored few of about 100 cook books in my wife's collection. When Katrina drowned the book case we saved almost nothing and she has cried over this one (and many other things), but this was the one cookbook she feared we'd never find again. Then I found it on Amazon. It is in new condition, tho clearly "old". She will soon have read all the "new" off, and we look forward to a few more great dishes before we pass it on to a favored heir....more info
  • Book for a deserted island
    The first edition of this book was my companion for two years in Turkey and I used it to figure out what I had eaten at my neighbor's house and recreate it in my kitchen. Whenever anyone asks me what one book I would want to have with me on a deserted island, I always want to say A Book of Middle Eastern Food. But of course I bite my lip on that since it's a cookbook and the person asking me would probably not understand wanting a cookbook when one can't use it. But I WOULD use it! I would remember through the beautiful stories, folktales, and recipes the life I no longer had.

    I just got the 3rd edition today in the mail and skimmed it. There were at least 5 dishes I saw immediately that I've eaten and wondered how to make. And my roommate is clamouring to get the older version from me when we part ways....more info
  • Wonderful cookbook
    This book is filled with many delicious recipes, updated to fit into today's busy lifestyle. If you love middle eastern food then this is a must read for home cooking....more info
  • More than a cookbook, it's a treasure!
    I lived in and travelled thru the Middle East and North Africa for 7 years, and I've been able to find all my favorite dishes (or variations of them) in this book. These days I'm no longer a vagabond but a homebound mommy. I've discovered that this book offers quick, simple, and inexpensive recipes using fresh ingredients. It'a diet which is as delicious as it is healthy. Claudia Roden is to Middle Eastern cooking what Marcella Hazan is to Italian cuisine and Madhur Jaffrey to Indian food. Buy this book - you'll love it!!!...more info
  • An amazing collection of fantastic and easy to use recipes.
    I don't live in the Middle East any more but I still cook that way... Most of us do this type of cooking by memory, feel, and recipes of our ancestors. In the absence of all of those Claudia Roden is the next best thing. The recipes are more local to Egypt, Israel, Iraq, and Syria, but there are great items from Yemen, Greece, Turkey, Iran et. al. The recipes in this book are simple and mostly fool-proof. This newest hardcover edition is also beautiful. You will be glad to have this in your collection. This book is used every day in our house. ...more info
  • Thick and full of goodness
    I love the format of this book. It has white pages with black ink on them. The formatting is simple. Clean text on clear pages make for an easy to read cookbook. Too many books have glossy paged full color backgrounds that do nothing but make them hard to read and push up the cost.

    The best part about this book is that it has lots of recipes. You get your moneys worth out of it for that sole reason....more info

  • The New Book of Middle Eastern Food is a real treat!
    This book is a fantastic exploration of the world of Middle Eastern cooking. It has everything going for it. The recipies are delicious and not too complicated or time-consuming for the average person. Rarely are there ingredients listed that are not readily available at the local grocery store. There is an extensive background of Middle Eastern cooking that is fascinating to read. And it is a big book, with a huge variety of recipies from different countries in the region, everything from appetizers to desserts and drinks. You'll have everything you need to make a multi-course feast if you're so inspired...and there's so many good recipies in here it's easy to feel inspired! I would recommend this book to anyone, especially if you like to use many flavors and spices....more info
  • Absolute Joy
    I have many cookbooks by Claudia Roden and respect her greatly. The recipes are easy to follow and the history is impecable....more info
  • Adventures in great food
    I discovered this book while visiting relatives in Amsterdam. I've been exploring tagine recently and this book just opened up for me the whole of Near Eastern/North African cooking. I went to one of the wonderful Amsterdam spice markets and stocked up before my return home and have been having a great time cooking from the book ever since.

    The recipes are clearly laid out and easy to cook, and the book itself is great reading with a lot of fascinating background material and lovely photos of the finished product. It's just a pleasure to use....more info
  • WONDERFUL book!
    And while I can only speak about the Greek recipes with any authority, I suspect what I feel about those (that they're very, very authentic) extends to the other recipes in the book.

    I'm also struck -- positively so -- by her willingness to include very simple, straightforward recipes with pride. Too many cooks and cookbooks these days feel a need to jazz recipes up, to necessarily make them 'different' and 'new' instead of just presenting the food as it has always been made, trusting that its inherent goodness will be enough for anyone new to the recipe, just as it's been enough for those who've made it for years and years.

    Lovely photographs, very nice 'tone' to the text. Have already given a second copy as a gift....more info
  • The best book on middle eastern food!
    If you're going to buy one book on middle eastern food, this is the one to get! There are hundreds of recipes and every single one that I have tried so far have turned out delicious. This book has opened up a whole new culinary world for me. Many of the recipes have simple lists of ingredients, but when combined they work sublimely well together. Other recipes are more complex and include lots of spices which work deliciously together. Some of my don't miss favorites so far are: Grated Carrot Salad, Peppers Stuffed With Rice, Chicken With Almonds and Honey, Chicken With Preserved Lemons and Olives (it takes 1 month to pickle the lemons, but it's well worth the wait!) and Eggplant in Spicy Honey Sauce....more info


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