Olives, Lemons & Za'atar
By Rawia Bishara
2014, Kyle Books, 978-1-90686-884-0, $29.95 hb.
Reviewed by Tom Verde on January 31, 2016
There’s carrying coals to Newcastle, and then there’s bringing za’atar to Brooklyn. Rawia Bishara accomplished the latter in 1998 by opening the doors of Tanoreen, a Middle Eastern restaurant in the Bay Ridge section of town. The establishment has been featured in the pages of Gourmet, the New Yorker and the New York Times, yet Bishara never let the attention go to her head. Her success lies in sticking close to her Palestinian-Arab roots (she hails from Nazareth) when offering up such home-based dishes as kafta (ground lamb with onions and spices), fattoush (a salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, herbs and crunchy bits of pita) and, of course, falafel (“It is to Arabs what a hamburger is to Americans,” she writes.) Bishara shares her recipes for these and other classics, together with informative and engaging sidebars and headnotes, in this beautifully produced volume that is sophisticated enough for the accomplished cook, yet features recipes simple enough for the novice.