Exotic tastes (+recipes)

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A new edition of the highly regarded Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook takes the tastebuds on a journey around a fascinating culinary part of the world

The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook by Tess Mallos. Photo / Alan Benson
The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook by Tess Mallos. Photo / Alan Benson

The modern world of food writing can be a fickle beast, as the newest foodie "stars" and cuisines come and go in a slew of TV competitions, fast gallops through a country or quick turnaround books. But Australia's Tess Mallos was one of those who earned her reputation through her solid, beautifully researched cookery writing and appearances.

Mallos, who died this June, was born in Australia in 1933 to Greek parents and had the grace and charm to bring this then very foreign cuisine to her fellow Australians. Her first Greek Cookbook was published in 1976 and is still a classic (it was up to its thirteenth edition). The Middle Eastern Cookbook first came out in 1979, has had 45 editions and, in a delightful coals-to-Newcastle twist, has been published in Arabic. This edition was completely revised and updated, with more than 500 classic and contemporary recipes from 18 countries: her definition of the region runs from Greece through Cyprus and Turkey all the way to Iran and Afghanistan.

Each country's food is introduced carefully so you get a great sense of the "same but different" styles of each.

The array of sweet treats shows the lesser known home cooking, and would make great gifts for the holiday season.

The semolina cake is from Egypt, the almond cream pudding from the Syria, Lebanon, Jordan area.

The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook by Tess Mallos, $59.99, published by Hardie Grant Books, photography by Alan Benson.

- NZ Herald

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