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

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  2,217 ratings  ·  55 reviews
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...more
ebook, 528 pages
Published December 24th 2008 by Knopf (first published 1968)
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Foxthyme
Note: This review will cover four books. The review will be the same in each of those books’ review sections.

I was recently at a Mediterranean/Arabic restaurant that was bursting with flavourful foods. We’re not talking your usual fast food Mediterranean food. We talking herbs, spices, fresh and hot flat breads (pouffed from cooking). I realized that even though I have been using herbs and spices in my cooking, raising a lot of my own fresh herbs, I could be doing a whole lot more.

So I searche...more
Hana
This is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks and it's one of the two or three that I consult almost every week. I got the original edition as a gift when I was a teenager and had already been cooking seriously for several years. Before this, I mostly followed the classical French style; this was my introduction (and my family's) to 'ethnic' cooking and I could not have had a better teacher than Claudia Roden. I used the first book to the point where it fell apart and I was thrilled to discover...more
Adam
Before I go on to more critical remarks, I'd like to note that people should own this book, mostly because there are few substitutes with anything resembling the same range and scale.

The book has far too many Greek and Moroccan and Tunisian etc. recipes for its title to make sense. This is the first problem. Or not, cause the Greeks and Moroccans and Tunisians etc. make really fucking good food.

The second is that the recipes given are often for boring, mundane versions of the dishes. This is, of...more
Commonground
My favorite ethnic cookbook, hands down. I actually have the old edition (sans the pictures), but this edition (pictured here) is the only one commercially available. Apparently, in the new edition the author has lowered the fat content in the recipes. This seems unnecessary to me since the cuisine places a strong emphasis on vegetables and grains, and most of the fat in recipes comes from olive oil. If it's healthy, why not indulge a bit, eh?

I really like Roden's style. She lived throughout th...more
Hirondelle
This is an amazing book, a wide ranging cookbook, with lots of social-historical context, snippets from literature and charming personal anedoctes. I am sure I will pick this up many times.

The recipe writing style is also precisely to my taste. The range is amazing and inspiring.

I have only two small personal quibbles with this : first, my edition (this precise cover) has american units. I hate american units and always prefer to avoid them. second, the photos instead of being spread out through...more
Sherry
Apr 13, 2009 Sherry rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: experienced home chefs
I love Middle Eastern food, and I love this book! While this book is not for beginners, those more experienced in the kitchen will love trying new and exotic flavors and cooking techniques. I made a fantastic feast of kebabs, baba ghanouj (roasted the egglpants under the brioler myself), hummus, tabouli, and HOMEMADE PITA BREAD (took a few days, no joke). But that's just the beginning...the book is full of so many delicious recipes that most AMericans have never heard or conceived of, regardless...more
Finn
Delicious recipes! Roden does a great job of noting regional variations as well, which is fantastic (ie. use fava beans for falafels from Lebanon but chickpeas for those from Israel). Instead of making a completely different recipe she just notes the possible ingredient swaps or additions at the end of each recipe making it really easy to navigate! My only complaint were that there were so few pictures- I'm very visual when flipping through my cookbooks :)
Zaynaz
I own one of the older editions of this cookbook (I think it was published in 1997?) which doesn't have pictures. This is an exhaustive and excellent overview of Middle Eastern, North African and even some Greek cooking. The wara einab/stuffed vine leaves recipe is the first that actually worked for me, and I've cooked a few other dishes from the book too. But what I really value this book for is the context it gives the food- the interesting stories, anecdotes, the variations. As funny as it mi...more
Terri
It is Claudia Roden. What more can I say. If you consider yourself a foodie of any level (beginner to advanced) you will have heard of her and her great books.
If you haven't, consider this one the bible for westerners wanting to cook middle eastern food and check it out from your library or bookstore straight away.
Cindy Rice
Jul 30, 2014 Cindy Rice rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Cindy by: Jacques
Calling this book by Claudia Roden a cookbook just doesn't do it justice. It's a story book and includes ancient dishes from across time. I've made several dishes from this book of wonders, and they have all been a great hit and many have become a main staple in everyday life. Who knew adding a little lemon juice or adding a small dollop of fried green onions to a bowl of soup could make such an overall difference in taste? This cookbook isn't all recipes.. it lends history and stories of the or...more
Matthew
This book has been an invaluable resource in the midst of the current Middle Eastern food kick in which I find myself. It covers all the basics and is wide enough in scope to include foods from Turkey to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Levant. So far I have been pleased with the results of everything I've tried, though I've really just started to scratch the surface.

I've made two tasty salads, one with couscous tomatoes and cucumber and the other, called Kefir, with tomatoes and bulgar. Kefir is Tu...more
Amber
So a cookbook might seem an unusual thing to read and review, and honestly, I own very few cookbooks. Most of my recipes are from friends or family members, or I find them on allrecipes.com . Having grown up a military brat, I have always tried a variety of new foods and cuisines. After college, I discovered a couple middle eastern recipes on allrecipes quite by chance- I was searching for ways to use some of the many tomatoes and cucumbers friends had given me from their gardens. As a result, I...more
Dixie Diamond
I haven't had time to cook much out of this yet (the green beans with tomato sauce are great, although I reduced the oil), but reading it sure makes me hungry.

There is a lot of text apart from the recipes, which some people might find intimidating, but since I'm also a history buff I appreciate having it there to put things in context. If I'm going to read cookbooks, anyway, I might as well learn something extra about the food, right?

I'm looking forward to trying the recipes for ful medames, alt...more
Nikki
This book has the same problems as many 'comprehensive' cookbooks--there is simply too much. I don't need eighteen different dips in the first chapter. In fact, I'd be lucky to try three. I need more photos and less dense text. I need more specific directions--what does a slice of feta cheese look like? If I decided it was what they sell in the average Canadian deli section of a grocery store, I'm pretty sure the recipe as it was written would be awful. Overall, while I appreciate that Claudia R...more
Abby
So far so good! I started reading this with sticky notes next to me to mark recipes I wanted to try. It soon became apparent that sticky notes were not needed - everything sounded fantastic (but the brains - not for me). Tonight, I made the Ferakh bel Tamatem (Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes) and Ful Ahdar bel Roz wal Laban Zabadi (Fresh green fava beans with rice and yogurt), though I used green peas instead of fava beans. Wow. Awesome dinner that even my 3-year-old liked. And my picky 5-...more
Heather
A great encyclopedia of Middle Eastern food. Everything is spelled out for the unknowledgeable cookbook peruser. Foreign names are given accessible titles and descriptions, turning salsouf into bulgar and chickpea salad.
Sue
One of my favorites for Middle Eastern food. Two other favorites are A Taste of Persia by Najmieh K. Batmanglij and The Arab Table by May S. Bsiu.

I am not good cook, but I love to read cookbooks. These three books are very accessible. I can enjoy reading them, and I can actually make a dish from one of their recipies from time to time withiut having to learn a complicated new skill, purchase some new expensive cooking gadget, or spending days on the internet or a phone trying to find ingredients...more
Asma
i liked the book because it has some recipes from different middle eastern countries. however i found some of the recipes not exactly the way they suppose to be according to what i know and the igredients i am used to. i know there are the same name for a recipe but with different methods and ingredients for this reason the name of the book should mention something that gives the reader the impretion that the recipes are with a twist. overall it is informative because i got to know some other re...more
Beth
I want to like this book more than I do, and I'll keep giving it more chances, but I've found a lot of the recipes, while not exactly dull, to be unremarkable. To be fair, I haven't cooked through even a fifth of the book yet. It does serve as a solid way to get a broad regional handle on ME food from one source, and Claudia Roden writes beautifully. If I were to re-try those recipes I have cooked, I'd probably triple her herb / spice quantities to achieve a more authentic replication of taste.
Heather Domin
This has been haunting my To-Read shelf for ages; I didn't think I'd ever get my hands on it, but lo and behold my school library had a copy. I just spent most of Spring Break perusing it. It was as fantastic as I'd hoped, and I will definitely be buying a copy when my budget allows. I don't care about pictures - if I want to look at food, I'll go to a blog. I read this book to learn about Middle Eastern & North African cooking, history, and culture, and I got all three in spades. Boom. Sold...more
Jessica
Well Claudia,

I have loved spending this time together. We haven't actually cooked anything yet and actually I'm a little worried that we will simply be distracted by searching for the perfect middle eastern market in Chicago where we can find uncommon ingredients and then me soaking in all the interesting stories in the book for a second time and sipping tea....and nothing will ever actually be cooked. I hope I'm wrong because it all sounds like seriously delicious fun.

Jessica
Patrick
Rich with recipes and stories, fun to read. Am just learning about Persian and related Middle Eastern cooking, expanding on experiments with Moroccan and North African flavors. Some of the recipes are very basic variations on what could pass for European dishes. Others are so heavy with cumin and cardamom that they can overwhelm an unfamiliar palate. But in between are lots of gems, and some great stories and jokes. I got a copy from the library but will be buying one for my shelf.
Sophia
I was expecting to find more vegetarian recipes. Instead, I found many meat-centered recipes. Roasting an entire chicken for myself and maybe my boyfriend? That's not happening any time soon. This is a cookbook that I'll probably want when I have more mouths to feed, but for right now in my young life, this is not for me.

I like it for connecting the recipes to Middle Eastern culture, and for an ethnic cookbook, it is very good. I loved my lentils in tomato sauce!
Tessa
I actually haven't cooked anything from this yet, but I was so excited by it when I got it from the library that I bought it. It has a recipe for Mohomara, a walnut-based spread that I have only seen in one other restaurant before (and love), and it's pretty and well-written.

update: I made little beef & onion "triangles" from this book yesterday and I want to be eating them constantly. Although the filo folding diagram was confusing and I did it free form.
Megan
This is very comprehensive, and in my experience, the recipes are fairly traditional. (My husband's family is Persian, and they haven't reacted to anything by asking "they said to put WHAT in that dish?" as they have with other cookbooks. I wish it had more photos so that I knew what the end result is supposed to look like, but it does a good job explaining Middle Eastern cooking and adapting it for American kitchens.
Lesli
Packed with recipes. Hidden gems of photographs. I prefer Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon to this book mostly because of the photography and history. However, I would come back to this book in a second if I needed/wanted excellent Middle Eastern recipes.
Kipahni
I have already cooked at least 5 meals from this book and each is right on with the egyptian meals. I love that she quantifies the recipe instead of doing what my in laws would do, which is "put chicken in heat until you can cut it with a spoon and the soup is yellow adding 3 dashes of salt" soooooo vague.
She also really captures the culture of food in the middle east, the customs surrounding it.
Renu
Its a great book. Its a big book with lots & lots of recipes. I have not used it to cook much though I love to read the recipes.
Lady Claire, Marchioness of Fancy Pants
This is a well done cookbook, but I am partial to cookbooks that have pictures of the completed dishes. This cookbook was your standard, old school cookbook - no photos with a lot of recipes. If you already know a lot about Middle Eastern food and how it's supposed to turn out, I would recommend this cookbook. I am a beginner so I need thorough instructions and photos of the finished product.
Allison
You'll need to add some things to the pantry if you're an average American home cook to get through a lot of these recipes but it is totally worth it. The book is extensive and the recipes are great. I love it for transitional seasons where I want something that smacks of a warmer climate but still satisfies in the early New York city spring. A great addition for the world cook's repetoire.
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Claudia Roden was brought up in Cairo. She finished her education in Paris and later studied art in London. Starting as a painter she was drawn to the subject of food partly through a desire to evoke a lost heritage - one of the pleasures of a happy life in Egypt.
With her bestselling classic, A Book of Middle Eastern Food, first published in 1968, Roden revolutionized Western attitudes to the cuis...more
More about Claudia Roden...
Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York The Food of Spain Claudia Roden's the Food of Italy: Region by Region Tamarind & Saffron: Favourite Recipes from the Middle East

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