I’m always of two minds when it comes to Middle Eastern cooking.
On the one hand, I know that I love Middle Eastern food. There’s a restaurant a couple of towns away from me called Kareem’s, where I learned how wonderful and diverse Middle Eastern food really was. It’s more than hummus, kabobs, and baklava. I discovered muhammara, ma’moul, kanafa, and so much more.
But enjoying middle eastern food doesn’t necessarily mean that I feel an urge to cook it at home. I’ve learned a few wonderful recipes over the years, but I just never make them.
For the longest time, I only owned one Middle Eastern cookbook in my personal library.
I now own two books.
Soframiz, by Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick, is a title that I waffled about picking up a copy. The recipes are from/inspired by Sofra Bakery and Cafe, a locally acclaimed Middle Eastern restaurant.
Full disclosure – I haven’t been to Sofra yet. I know I’m ridiculous considering how not-far-away it is from me. I almost didn’t pick up the cookbook. But my older sister has been there, and she was quick to tell me to give it a go. (And I’m sure that she wants to borrow it for herself.)
Skimming through the cookbook, there’s something adventurous about all the recipes. True, there’s the ubiquitous recipe for shakshuka. However, more often than not, there are recipes that I’ve never even heard of like cheese borek with nigella seeds (borek appears to be a type of pie).
Some recipes that have peaked my interest?
- tahini brioche loaves
- asure (breakfast grain pudding)
- olive oil granola
- yufka (unleavened bread dough)
- chicken shwarma with garlic sauce and greens
- chicken and walnut borek
- tahini shortbread cookies
- milky walnut fig baklava (I would love to know how Sofra’s baklava compares with Kareem’s. So far, Kareem’s is my favorite.)
- almond rose cake
- kunefe (Also curious as to how Sofra compares with Kareem’s on dessert.)
- orange blossom lemonade
- tahini hot chocolate
So far, I’ve only made the shwarma spice mix. I haven’t used it for real shwarma but I have experimented cooking with it a little. It’s quite warming on the tongue, and perfumed. Very bold flavor, maybe too bold. I made a batch of spiced chickpeas stewed in tomatoes, and some spiced meatballs. While both were enjoyable, I’m considering simplifying the spice mix. I’ll probably make the chicken shwarma recipe from the book before cementing my decision.
The photos are downright delightful looking. I would love for someone to make all that food for me to taste. (I guess I should really just hoof it over to Sofra, right?) I’m having trouble finding a photo that I don’t think looks appetizing. The food take center stage, free from any unnecessary background noise, and free from any insane photoshopping. (To this day, I don’t like food photos that are heavy on the contrast.)
There are really no bad points to Soframiz. I guess I can thank my sister for nudging me to pick up a copy.
Having said that, will I really step out of my comfort zone and cook from Soframiz? I’m not really sure.
(I will, however, make the lemonade. I don’t care of it’s the wrong season for it. I even bought lemons already. I can’t lie: I really like the orange blossom lemonade at Kareem’s. I don’t have the recipe, and I haven’t been able to replicate it on my own. I’m insanely curious to see how the Soframiz recipe will compare.)
Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. I’m not getting paid for this post.