The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has been the story of struggle for primacy in an ancient homeland.
Now comes “Jerusalem: A Cookbook,” a tribute to the city’s diverse food heritage by restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi and his junior partner and co-chef, Sami Tamimi.
Both men were born in Jerusalem in 1968, one Israeli and the other Palestinian.
Although they did not know each other in childhood, these two became fast friends in London, bound by a love for the flavors of their native city and the commonality of their experiences growing up there.
Many have quipped that their business partnership could be a model for amity among Israelis and Palestinians, united by the pair’s signature hummus recipe.
Ottolenghi, senior partner in an eponymous line of delis and food shops, mixes elements from his European heritage (his father is Italian and his mother German) with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean ingredients.
Their shops in Soho, Islington, Notting Hill and Belgravia are veritable feasts for the eyes.
Ottolenghi, who writes a food column for the Guardian, has also penned two other cookbooks, “Ottolenghi, The Cookbook,” which came out in 2008, and “Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi” (2010), a compilation of vegetarian recipes from his newspaper column.
While Ottolenghi’s and Tamimi’s recipes are sometimes difficult to follow, their creativity and philosophy are easy to digest and well worth investigating.
Cookbooks have much to teach us. Why not read “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” with your book club? You can try a little of Ottolenghi’s culinary creativity in your own kitchen and share with friends. You might pair it with the 1880 classic “Ben Hur” by New Mexico governor Lew Wallace.
Barbecue Beef Short Ribs with Urfa Chili
4 large beef short ribs
1 onion, quartered
1 can beef broth or consommé
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons harissa paste (see instructions below)
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses or pomegranate balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Urfa chili flakes, or another mild dried chili flake
1/2 can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup whisky
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 small onion, chopped