When I was first looking at reviewing this glorious new cookbook, published earlier this month, I had no idea, of course, that terrible atrocities were about to happen in Israel and Gaza. Irrespective of politics, the food of the region is glorious.
So fans of London’s Delamina restaurants (Marylebone & Shoreditch) will be delighted to learn that Limor Chen, who runs the restaurants with her husband Amir, has written a celebration of her recipes in My Tel Aviv Table, her debut cookbook.
Her restaurants are famed for their fragrant, exciting and vibrant dishes and in this book, Limor shares her wholesome cooking style (centering on healthy, fresh dishes).
Tel Aviv, where she grew up, is almost in its own carefree bubble, one of the food capitals of the world – it’s a melting pot of cuisines and inhabitants.
Limor has tried to ensure that her recipes don’t require complicated methods and can be made in a home kitchen. She offers shortcuts where possible, and highlights some of her favourite ingredients, such as za’atar and orange blossom and rose waters.
Here are some recipes from this fabulous cookbook that will take you on a journey of flavours and aromas from this sun-soaked city.
My Tel Aviv Table is published by Nourish Books at £28 for a cloth-bound hardback with colourful photography – it will make a wonderful gift!
Crispy Cabbage & Onions with Toasted Pine Nuts & Za’atar & Sumac Yogurt
“I’ve always felt that cabbage is an under-appreciated vegetable. Aside from being full of nutrients, it absorbs flavours well and is super versatile. In this recipe, it becomes crispy when roasted together with the onions, which makes a delicious contrast to the lemony spiced yogurt.”
1⁄2 red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 large red onion, sliced into thin strips
1⁄4 tsp salt
Pinch of coarse ground black pepper
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted Pinch of sumac
For the yogurt
7 tbsp (200g/7oz/3⁄4 cup) plain yogurt
1 tsp lemon juice 1⁄4 tsp lemon zest 1 tsp za’atar
1 tsp sumac
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2.
Put the cabbage and onion in a large bowl. Add the salt, black pepper and olive oil and mix well, massaging the oil into the vegetables.
Line a large baking tray with baking parchment. Spread the cabbage and onion mixture out evenly, then cook in the oven for 1 hour. Mix every 20 minutes. It’s important to do this to avoid some parts burning and others not getting crispy enough.
Mix the yogurt with the lemon juice and zest, za’atar and sumac. Spread out the yogurt on a large plate and place the crispy vegetables on top in a nice pile in the middle, then sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and an extra pinch of sumac.
Salmon Ras-el-Hanout & Pomegranate Molasses with Sweet Potato Purée
“I use pomegranate molasses often in my kitchen. It is deliciously tart, and in this recipe the sharpness of their flavour cuts through the rich salmon so well. With the addition of ras-el-hanout, you are immediately transported to the Middle East. Ras-el-hanout translated from Arabic is “head of the shop”. It’s a popular spice mix throughout the Middle East and is a blend of the premium spices the shop has to offer, as the name suggests.”
4 salmon fillets
4 small sweet potatoes (about 500g/1lb 2oz in total), peeled and cut into medium cubes
4 medium potatoes (about 400g/14oz in total) peeled and cut into medium cubes
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp rapeseed/canola or vegetable oil
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sumac
1 tsp salt
For the marinade
4 tbsp pomegranate molasses 1 tsp ras el hanout
2 tsp date molasses
1 tsp garlic salt
A few dill sprigs
4 tbsp pomegranate seeds
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
First make the marinade by mixing all the ingredients together until well combined and the garlic salt has dissolved. Place the salmon in a dish, then pour the marinade over the salmon and leave in the refrigerator for 1–2 hours. If you can leave it longer it will soak up the flavours even more.
In a medium-size saucepan, cook all the potatoes in boiling water with a pinch of salt for about 30 minutes depending on the size, or until they are very soft.
Meanwhile, place a frying pan on a medium heat and drizzle in the rapeseed/canola oil. When hot, gently add the fish, skin-side down, and cook for 30 seconds, then turn over and cook for another 30 seconds. (Keep the dish with the marinade.) Transfer to an ovenproof dish and pour over the remaining marinade. Cook in the oven for 8–10 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, sumac and salt to combine.
Drain the potatoes, transfer to a bowl and mash to a medium-smooth consistency. Add the olive oil and lemon mixture and mash again until smooth.
Spoon the sweet potato purée onto a large serving plate, place the salmon on top and sprinkle with the dill and pomegranate seeds.
Malebi with Rose Water, Raspberry Reduction & Pistachios
MAKES: about 10 portions
“Malebi is a classic Middle Eastern dessert that’s popular across the whole region. It’s a particular favourite of my husband, who has fond memories of his grandfather bringing him malebi from a specific kiosk in Jaffa as a child. Nowadays, there are a few places that specialize in this lovely, creamy dessert, and you can choose from a selection of toppings that include nuts, cookies or a variety of different fruity syrups. Hamalebia is one of those cafes. It’s a fun place to go for a sweet treat after a meal with friends and has an outdoor seating area where you can play a selection of board games on offer until the early hours of the morning. Traditional malebi is topped with a sugary red syrup, but in this recipe, I’ve replaced it with a raspberry reduction, to make it lighter and fresher.”
1l/35fl oz/41⁄4 cups milk
280ml/91⁄2fl oz/scant 11⁄4 cups whipping cream
100g/31⁄2oz/1⁄2 cup caster/ granulated sugar
4 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp rose water
120g/41⁄4oz/1 cup cornflour/ cornstarch
For the raspberry reduction
150g/51⁄2oz/1 cup frozen raspberries
100g/31⁄2oz/1⁄2 cup caster/ granulated sugar
150ml/5fl oz/2⁄3 cup water 1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp rose water
Chopped roasted pistachios Edible rose petals (optional)
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except the cornflour/cornstarch, until combined. Put about 10 tablespoons of this mixture into another bowl and add the cornflour to it. Mix well.
Pour the mixture without the cornflour into a saucepan and place on a medium heat. When little bubbles start to appear at the edge of the pan, add the cornflour mixture and stir until it starts to thicken. At this point, give it a good last stir, remove from the heat, then pour into individual serving dishes. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours until set.
Put all the ingredients for the raspberry coulis except the rose water into a saucepan on a medium heat. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until it reduces by about half. This should take about 30 minutes. Add the rose water, remove from the heat and let it cool down completely.
Add a couple of spoonfuls of the coulis to each malebi and serve sprinkled with chopped pistachios and rose petals, if using.