Food across the divide
Yotam Ottolenghi's new book celebrates the food and culture of Jerusalem
A night out at Nopi, Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurant north of London’s Piccadilly, is a massive treat. The food is extraordinarily delicious and interesting, in combinations of texture and flavour you never dreamed existed. It’s also terrifically healthy food, leaving you with that happy feeling of well-, but not over-, fed contentment, rare in a restaurant supper. The bill, unfortunately, dispels that feeling of contentment pretty speedily – Nopi is massively expensive; great for a one-o celebration but not a venue, unless you are pals with a Russian billionaire, for every day.
Which makes the appearance of Ottolenghi’s third book especially pleasing. It means, since Yotam’s recipes work, a fair chance of being able to replicate the Ottolenghi food (he also has a couple of London cafes under his belt) in your own kitchen.
And Jerusalem is also a di erent type of cookbook – in many ways it doubles as a biography of a city. It’s written in collaboration with Sami Tamimi, Ottolenghi’s co-owner, who grew up in the Arab east side. Ottolenghi himself grew up in the Jewish west, so this joint venture spans not only two di erent types of cuisine but also a history of religious and cultural dissent.
A classy production, in other words – not only the recipes (which range from freekeh soup with meatballs, sa ron rice with barberries, roast chicken with clementines to sea bream with harissa and rose, leek and walnut salad) but also the photographs (by Jonathan Lovekin), both of the food and the city. Luscious is the only word to describe them, too.
Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi is published by Ebury Press, priced £27.
STUFFED AUBERGINE WITH LAMB AND PINE NUTS
These are best served with some bread or simple rice and some pickles on the side.
- 4 medium aubergines (about 1.2kg), halved lengthways
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 2 medium onions (340g in total), finely chopped
- 500g minced lamb
- 50g pine nuts
- 20g flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 tsp tomato purée
- 3 tsp caster sugar
- 150ml water
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp tamarind paste
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220C/ fan 200C/gas 7. Place the aubergine halves, skin-side down, in a roasting tin large enough to accommodate them snugly. Brush the flesh with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
While the aubergines are cooking, you can start making the stuffi ng by heating up the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan. Mix together the cumin, paprika and ground cinnamon and add half of this spice mix to the pan, along with the onion. Cook on a medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring often, before adding the lamb, pine nuts, parsley, tomato purée, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, 1 tsp of salt and some black pepper.
Continue to cook and stir for another 8 minutes or until the meat is cooked. Place the remaining spice mix in a bowl and add the water, lemon juice, tamarind, remaining sugar, cinnamon sticks and 1 teaspoon of salt; mix well.
Reduce the oven temperature to 195C/fan 175C/ gas 5. Pour the spice mix into the aubergine roasting tin. Spoon the lamb mixture on top of each aubergine. Cover the tin tightly with foil, return to the oven and roast for 1 hour 30 minutes, by which point the aubergines should be completely soft and the sauce thick. Twice through the cooking, remove the foil and baste the aubergines with the sauce, adding some water if the sauce dries out. Serve warm, not hot, or at room temperature.
ROASTED SWEET POTATOES AND FRESH FIGS
- 4 small sweet potatoes (1 kg in total)
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 40ml balsamic vinegar
- 20g caster sugar
- 12 spring onions, halved lengthways and cut into 4cm segments
- 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
- 6 fresh and ripe figs (240g in total), quartered
- 150g soft goat’s cheese, crumbled (optional)
- salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 240C/ fan 220C/gas 9. Wash the sweet potatoes, halve them lengthways and then cut each again into three long wedges. Mix with 3 tbsp of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons of salt and some black pepper. Spread the wedges out on a baking sheet, skin-side down, and cook for about 25 minutes or until soft. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
To make a balsamic reduction, place the balsamic vinegar and caster sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2-4 minutes or until it thickens. Be sure to remove the pan from the heat when the vinegar is still runnier than honey – it will continue to thicken as it cools. Stir in a drop of water before serving if it does become too thick to drizzle.
Arrange the sweet potatoes on a serving platter. Heat the remaining oil in a medium saucepan and add the spring onions and chilli. Fry on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, making sure not to burn the chilli, and then spoon the oil, onions and chilli over the sweet potatoes.
Dot the figs among the wedges and then drizzle over the balsamic reduction. Serve at room temperature with the cheese crumbled over, if using.
Daily tip from the lady archive
“A GRACEFUL walk is a great asset, for sometimes it can create an illusion of beauty where little exists.”The Lady. Pleasant Exercises for Grace. 2nd April 1931