Middle East

With culinary influences from Muslim, Jewish, Arab, Christian and Armenian communities, new cookbook 'Jerusalem' is packed full of tasty recipes. Here, we have a sneak peek at three...

Roasted chicken with Jerusalem artichoke and lemon

Jerusalem artichokes are well loved in the city but have actually got nothing to do with it; not officially anyway. The name is a distortion of the Italian name of this sunflower tuber, which has an artichoke like flavour. From girasole articiocco to Jerusalem artichoke.

The combination of saffron and whole lemon slices does not only make for a beautiful-looking dish, it goes exceptionally well with the nutty earthiness of the artichokes. This is easy to prepare. You just need to plan ahead and leave it to marinate properly.

Ingredients:

450g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into six lengthways (1.5cm thick wedges)
3 tbsp lemon juice
8 chicken thighs, on the bone with the skin on, or a medium whole chicken, divided into four
12 banana shallots, peeled and halved lengthways
12 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 medium lemon, cut in half lengthways and then into very thin slices
1 tsp saffron threads
50ml olive oil
150ml cold water
1 ½ tbsp pink peppercorns, slightly crushed
10g fresh thyme leaves
40g tarragon leaves, chopped
2 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

1. Put the Jerusalem artichokes in a medium saucepan, cover with plenty of water and add half the lemon juice. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10–20 minutes, until tender but not soft. Drain and leave to cool.

2. Place the Jerusalem artichokes and all the remaining ingredients, excluding the remaining lemon juice and half of the tarragon, in a large mixing bowl and use your hands to mix everything together well.

3. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight, or for at least two hours.

4. Preheat the oven to 240°C/220°C Fan/Gas Mark 9. Arrange the chicken pieces, skin-side up, in the centre of a roasting tin and spread the remaining ingredients around the chicken. Roast for 30 minutes. Cover the tin with foil and cook for a further 15 minutes.

5. At this point, the chicken should be completely cooked. Remove from the oven and add the reserved tarragon and lemon juice. Stir well, taste and add more salt if needed. Serve at once.

Na’ama’s Fattoush

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

200g Greek yoghurt and 200ml full-fat milk or 400ml of buttermilk (replacing both yoghurt and milk)
2 large stale Turkish flatbread or naan (250g in total)
3 large tomatoes (380g in total), cut into 1.5cm dice
100g radishes, thinly sliced
3 Lebanese or mini cucumbers (250g in total), peeled and chopped into 1.5cm dice
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
15g mint
25g flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 tbsp dried mint
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp lemon juice
60ml olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
2 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar
¾ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1½ tsp salt
1 tbsp sumac or more according to taste, to garnish

Arab salad, chopped salad, Israeli salad – whatever you choose to call it, there is no escaping it. Wherever you go in the city, at any time of the day, a Jerusalemite is most likely to have a plate of freshly chopped vegetables – tomato, cucumber and onion, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice – served next to whatever else they are having. It’s a local affliction, quite seriously. Friends visiting us in London always complain of feeling they ate ‘unhealthily’ because there wasn’t a fresh salad served with every meal.

There are plenty of unique variations on the chopped salad but one of the most popular is Fattoush, an Arab salad that uses grilled or fried leftover pita. Other possible additions include peppers, radishes, lettuce, chilli, mint, parsley, coriander, allspice, cinnamon and sumac. Each cook, each family, each community has their own variation.

A small bone of contention is the size of the dice. Some advocate the tiniest of pieces, only a few millimetres wide, others like them coarser, up to 2cm wide. The one thing that there is no arguing over is that the key lies in the quality of the vegetables. They must be fresh, ripe and flavoursome, with many hours in the sun behind them.

This fabulous salad is probably Sami’s mother’s creation; Sami can’t recall anyone else in the neighbourhood making it. She called it fattoush, which is only true to the extent that it includes chopped vegetables and bread. She added a kind of home-made buttermilk and didn’t fry her bread, which makes it terribly comforting. Try to get small cucumbers for this as for any other fresh salad. They are worlds apart from the large ones we normally get in most UK supermarkets.

You could skip the fermentation stage and use buttermilk instead of the combination of milk and yoghurt. If using yoghurt and milk, start at least three hours and up to a day in advance by placing both in a bowl. Whisk well and leave in a cool place or in the fridge until bubbles form on the surface. What you get is a kind of home-made buttermilk, but less sour.

Tear the bread into bite-size pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add your fermented yoghurt mixture or commercial buttermilk, followed by the rest of the ingredients, mix well and leave for 10 minutes for all the flavours to combine.

Spoon the fattoush into serving bowls, drizzle with some olive oil and garnish generously with sumac.

Spice cookies

Makes: 16 cookies

During the late 19th century, as part of their Protestant beliefs, the Templers arrived in Jerusalem from Europe and established the German colony, a picturesque little neighbourhood south-west of the old city that to this day feels unusually Central European. This is the ‘civilized’ part of town, where you go for a coffee and a slice of Sachertorte if you wish to escape the harsh Levantine reality.

Germanic influences on the city’s food are evident in Christian contexts – the famous Austrian hospice at the heart of the old city serves superb strudels and proper schnitzels – but Czech, Austrian, Hungarian and German Jews arriving in the city from the 1930s have also managed to stamp their mark, opening cafes and bakeries serving many Austro-Hungarian classics. Duvshanyot, round iced cookies, made with honey and spices, typically for Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year), are possibly a result of this heritage; they are very similar to Pfeffernüsse.

These are very loosely inspired by duvshanyot, or pfeffernüsse. They are actually more closely related to an Italian spice cookie and are hugely popular on the sweet counter at Ottolenghi over Easter and Christmas. The recipe was adapted from the excellent The International Cookie Cookbook by Nancy Baggett.

Ingredients:

125g currants
2 tbsp brandy
240g plain flour
½ tbsp best-quality cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp each ground cinnamon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
150g good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely grated
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ tsp grated lemon zest
½ tsp grated orange zest
½ medium free-range egg
1 tbsp diced candied citrus peel

Ingredients for the glaze:

3 tbsp lemon juice
160g icing sugar

1. Soak the currants in the brandy for 10 minutes. Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spices, salt and dark chocolate. Mix well with a whisk.

2. Put the butter, sugar, vanilla and lemon and orange zest in a mixer bowl and beat to combine but not aerate much, about a minute. Add the egg slowly, while the machine is running, and mix for another minute. Add the dry ingredients, followed by the currants and brandy. Mix until everything comes together.

3. Remove the bowl from the machine and use your hands to gently knead until you get a uniform dough. Divide the cookie mix into 50g chunks and shape them into perfectly round balls. Place on two baking sheets lined with baking paper, about 2cm apart, and rest in the fridge for at least an hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/170ºC Fan/Gas Mark 5. Bake the cookies for 15–20 minutes, or until the top firms up but the centre is still slightly soft.

5. Remove from the oven. Once the cookies are out of the oven, allow to cool for five minutes only, and then transfer to a wire rack. While still warm, whisk together the glaze ingredients until a thin and smooth icing is formed. Pour 1 tablespoon of the glaze over each biscuit, leaving it to drip and coat the biscuit with a very thin, almost transparent film. Finish each with three pieces of candied peel placed at the centre. Leave to set and serve, or store in an airtight container for a day or two.

These three recipes have been taken from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi  – a collection of 100 accessible recipes within the cultural and religious melting pot of this diverse city.

 


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