Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi – Jerusalem

Understanding Spices

The latest addition to our book collection is the stunning cookbook from Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi – Jerusalem.

Embracing a multi-cultural population, the book celebrates the astonishing diversity of foods that have historically evolved from a fusion of Middle Eastern, North African and European cuisines.

Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi were both brought up in Jerusalem, Yotam on the Jewish west side and Sami on the east Muslim side. The recipes within the book are a glorious combination of their culinary differences, equally enjoyed within the same city.

Recipes abundant in vegetables, herbs, pulses, grains, fruits, nuts and a myriad of spices, result in an array of colourful and flavoursome dishes which are easy to prepare following the clear and concise narrative.

Not just a cookery book, you are treated to exquisite photography and interpretations of the traditions and everyday life of the people of Jerusalem.

This book caught our attention as it is brimming with the spices and spice blends about which we are so passionate. Although spice blends are widely available in Jerusalem’s grocery stores, they are also often hand made at home, each being unique dependent upon handed down recipes, tastes and use.

Evocative of the time-honoured production methods that we use at Seasoned Pioneers, where each of our spice blends are composed of traditional ingredients, dry roasted and hand blended to authentic recipes, Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s recipes just had to be tried!

Naturally, we commenced cooking dishes comprising spice blends that we make, starting with our zahtar (za’atar). The roasted butternut squash & red onion with tahini & zahtar / za’atar (page 36) was a divine side dish to accompany the Chicken Sofrito (page 190), as suggested by the authors – a truly delicious repast.

We then made the grilled fish skewers with hawaj (hawayej) & parsley (page 226), which we ate with a spectacular dish of tabbouleh (page 85) made with our baharat spice blend. This was a delightful, light and refreshing meal, incredibly easy to prepare, colourful and impressive when served.

Our next project will be to make the spice cookies (page 278), which sound perfect to offer to the Seasoned Pioneers team with their morning coffee!

For us, it is simply fantastic to cook recipes from Ottolenghi & Tamimi’s stunning book that champions over 38 of the herbs, spices and spice blends for which we are renowned.

In addition to the huge variety of familiar herbs and spices, many recipes use our more unusual products such as sumac, barberries, rose petals and tamarind paste. Our legendary ras-el-hanout makes an appearance in the watercress & chickpea soup on page 132, as does our harissa spice blend in the recipe for pan-fried sea bream with harissa & rose on page 219.

Seasoned Pioneers shawarma blend would be a great time saving substitute in the lamb shawarma recipe on page 210 and of course, we make a traditional and authentic blend of dukkah, if you haven’t got time to follow the recipe on page 300.

To summarise, this book is a must-have for any adventurous cook, complemented by Seasoned Pioneers herbs, spices and seasonings!

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