Living without a television has increased my hunger for books. I seem to be cradling two categories: those from which I am seeking knowledge and those I want to entertain me.
I received Crescent for Christmas and have recently finished devouring it. It’s setting and plot of an Iraqi-American chef’s love story nicely fit Crescent into both of the above book categories. While its heroine was a bit too naive in the love dept for me (the book sometimes slips into high school like descriptions of romantic woo-wooness -yuck), the cooking descriptions offer the perfect voyeuristic view into her spice cabinet.
As characters in the story spilled their favorite comfort meals from Iran, I couldn’t help but begin to seek out any meal mentions and began annotating them in the book’s back cover. The more Arabic the name of the food the better.
- Mjeddrah: lentil
- Knaffea: a pastry made from phyllo dough and cheese
- Leben: Kefir, a type of drinkable yogurt
- Labneh: soft fresh cheese made from yogurt
- Sfeehas: triangular meat pies filled with ground lamb, onion, and cream cheese
- Mensaf: Lamb in Spiced Yogurt Sauce with Rice and Bread
- Ma’mul: date stuffed cookies
- Fatayer: spinach pies
- Frekeh: immature green wheat
- Baba Ghannuj: roasted eggplant spread
- Killaj Pastry: Deep Fried Rice Pudding Parcels
- Qatayif Pancakes: deep-fried, nut-stuffed, syrupy pastries
- Zalabiyya Fritters: fried dough
- Roasted leg of Lamb
Additionally my copy of Crescent contained recipes in the back for:
- Tabbouleh Salad
- Mjeddrah: a comfort meal of lentils and rice
- Roasted Leg of Lamb Stuffed with Garlic
- Stuffed Grape Leaves with Lamb Shanks: the recipe calls for Uncle Ben’s rice?!
- Gh’rayba Cookies: crescent shaped almond meal cookies
- Arabic Coffee: strong sweet coffee often flavored with cardamom
I am inspired. i want to have roasted meats with yogurt sauces, and spinach dishes and stuffed pastries…
My poor kitchen- it will never get clean at this rate.