Book Report: Tahini & Turmeric

Book report! Today I am writing about this new book, Tahini & Turmeric, by sisters Vicky Cohen and Ruth Fox of May I Have That Recipe? This is an exciting new entry onto the vegan cookbook scene since it is filled with all kinds of flavors and dishes that are not the “vegan cuisine of the moment” that has been filling the pages of the recent spate of cookbooks. I am talking about cardamom and pomegranates and Aleppo pepper and sumac. Not new to you? Well, if you read this blog, you know I keep my flavors pretty basic. So, this book is a challenge for my palate and my pantry but I have already made a bunch of recipes and I will definitely be making more.

One thing I love about this book, right off the bat, is the Jewish heritage of the authors. Their parents were born in Lebanon and moved to Spain where the authors were raised. Then, the authors came to the US for love. Awww. So, not only is there is a lot of flavor in these recipes, there is a lot of love and Jewish food that brings back memories of my grandparents.

After making a few recipes, I’m all in for new flavors. While I started with the simplest recipes that I could find, I am starting to get more comfortable and I know I will be cooking from this book for years to come. Not only that, but my husband went through the book and earmarked a bunch of recipes for me to make for him. He has not done that with any other cookbook. Literally, not a single one. So, I am extra excited for this project.

The book opens with the authors’ personal stories and then they describe the elements of the middle eastern pantry. I usually skip the pantry section of a cookbook but I was making a to-buy list as I read through this one. Aleppo pepper, cardamom, sumac, rose water and orange blossom syrup, I’m looking at you. The rest of the book is organized by types of meals. It opens with a chapter called day starters and brunch nosh from which I made two recipes straight away. The first is the overnight oats with cardamom and pistachios which has turned me onto cardamom, my new favorite spice, and now I need to find more recipes that call for it.

And then I made the chickpea and pepper shakshuka which is actually the cover shot. Mine didn’t look exactly like that since I made fresh polenta instead of using the kind in the tube, but it was delicious.

I look forward to the zucchini fritters, falafel waffles and cashew ricotta stuffed Syrian pancakes with orange blossom syrup.

The next chapter is called appetite teasers which includes hummus. Apparently, I have been making it right all these years! The new twist, though, is a sprinkle of sumac to top it which is now my other new favorite spice. And how about deconstructed hummus? Its basically hummus ingredients in a bowl, not blended. Why didn’t I think of that?! There are lots of other dips that I will eventually make including the tangy roasted carrot hummus and the ombre roasted beet salad with cumin dressing.

The next chapter is body warmers, aka soup, which is not happening this time of year. But I can’t wait to make the saffron-infused cauliflower soup with sumac oil and quick and easy jasmine rice tomato soup. Check my instragram for future posts from this chapter.

Then there is the big-enough-to-share salads chapter with all kinds of not boring salad ideas including this Belgian endive salad with pomegranate and pumpkin seeds. My husband has requested the crunchy crudités salad with spiced chickpeas which will be happening asap.

I love the kicked-up rice chapter in which lots of stuff is added to rice including this easy sweet and savory basmati rice with carrots and raisins which I will be making for Rosh Hashanah this year. I also can’t wait to make the nutty green rice cumin jasmine rice with almonds, walnuts and cashews.

The next chapter, the main event, is full of hearty, spicy and intense dishes that I’m looking forward to making this winter including the roasted cauliflower with green tahini, hearty peas and carrots with beet and chickpea meatless meatballs, panfried herbed falafel patties and the stuffed onions. Yes, that’s right, they have a recipe for stuffed onions.

In the fresh from the oven chapter, I will be making the gluten-free falafel crackers and the za’atar flax crackers as soon as the weather cools off.

The last chapter, sweet endings, is going to be a fun challenge. The authors use rose water and  orange blossom water which I may or not have ever had in food. I will be making the black and white tahini cookies, the creamy tahini cheesecake with pistachio crust and fresh pomegranate, and the rose water cream tartlets with pomegranate and pistachios.

Overall, this book is definitely for you if you want to cook outside the vegan box. If you get it and make some recipes, let me know!

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