Falastin: A Cookbook
By Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley
2020, Ten Speed Press, 978-0-39958-173-1, $35, hb.
Reviewed by Tom Verde on January 15, 2021
The cuisine of “Falastin” (pronounced fa-la-STEEN and named for a former Palestinian newspaper founded in 1911) is both honored and reinvented in this elegant tribute to the people and culture of Palestine by native-born Sami Tamimi and Irishwoman Tara Wigley, whose travels in the region and tutelage under Tamimi’s partner and famed cook Yotam Ottolenghi (who provides a forward) left her “knee-deep in tahini.” Like Ottolenghi’s cuisine, the 110 recipes in this beautifully illustrated cookbook evoke the streets of Jerusalem and the Palestinian countryside. There are some surprises (the addition of powdered skim milk to the dough recipe for pita bread) and elegant twists (dark coffee and cardamom in flourless chocolate torte, reminiscent of traditional Arabic coffee). Flourishes, such as whipped feta and yogurt, pistachios and Aleppo pepper, add panache to simply roasted wedges of eggplant, plus sections on Palestinian foodways (e.g. the story of the Palestinian Seed Library) elevate the classic foods of the region to new levels while honoring their roots.