Food from the Holy City

A Christmas present from my daughter which has been sadly underused for over a year is the book 'Jerusalem' by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. You may have come across Yotam in the Guardian's Saturday magazine where he has written a vegetarian food column for some time.

 

Well, my return from the Holy Land made me determined to explore its pages which are rich with detail about the cosmopolitan world of this ancient city. Both authors think of Jerusalem as their home even though they left over 20 years ago. They draw on the recipes passed down through their families. The book tries to convey the tapestry of cuisines that the city represents: Greek and Russian Orthodox, Hasidic Jews from Poland, Orthodox Jews from Tunisia, Libya, France and Britain, Palestinian Muslims, Ashkenazi Jews from Romania, Germany and Lithuania, others from Morocco, Ethiopia, Armenia, Argentina ...... the list is endless! All are now using the plentiful variety of vegetables and fruit that Jerusalem is able receive for most of the year because of its strategic location.

 

So what did I make on Monday? For starters:

 

Na'ama's (Sami's mother) Fattoush - a typical chopped mixed salad (with acknowledgement to the authors)

 

Ingredients:

 

200g Greek yoghurt

200ml milk

2 pitta breads

3 large tomatoes cut in 1.5cm dice

100g thinly sliced radishes

250g cucumber cut into 1.5cm dice

2 thinly sliced spring onions

15g mint

25g flat leafed parsley

2 crushed garlic cloves

3 tbsp lemon juice

olive oil

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

black pepper

salt

sumac to taste

 

Fatoush is an Arabic salad that uses left-over stale pitta. Every community has its own variation and a wide range of ingredients could be used. Fierce discussion takes place on exactly how small the ingredients should be chopped!

 

Mix the yoghurt and the milk and leave in the fridge overnight or at least for three hours. Buttermilk can be used instead of this mixture.

 

Break the pitta up into small pieces, add the yoghurt mixture and the rest of the ingredients and leave fopr ten minutes.

 

Then spoon into bowls, drizzle on more olive oil and garnish with sumac. What could be easier?

 

Glossary: Sumac is the ground berries of a flowering plant common in North Africa. I found it in the Fulbourn Tesco's in the section for 'exotic' spices and preserves. It is a dark red powder with quite a mild flavour.

 

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