Abla’s Lebanese Kitchen
by Abla Amad
Publisher: Penguin Lantern, Country: AU
ISBN: 9781921382215, Year: 2010
Link to publisher’s page or site
This review is the personal opinion of the reviewer.

Review

Lebanese Australian chef Abla Amad, renowned in Melbourne for her delicious homestyle cooking, this year updated her 2001 book The Lebanese Kitchen. The new edition, renamed to Abla’s Lebanese Kitchen comes on top of the peak of interest in Eastern Mediterranean cuisines. Unlike the first edition, the 2010 version is an attractive hardcover book with numerous photographs to entice the reader, but beyond that there’s barely anything new. The lack of new content is not necessarily a drawback, however, as Abla’s Lebanese Kitchen retains the original simple, personal focus on some delicious food.

A minor reorganisation in chapters results in a series of six full menu suggestions, then chapters called Dips & Pickles; Bread, Pastry & Pies (with a mezza menu); Salads; Soups; Fish; Chicken & Poultry (with a barbecue menu); Meat (with a Christmas menu); Vegetable & Meat Dishes; Vegetarian; Yoghurt; and Sweets & Drinks. At the end there is a short glossary and decent index.

The new version sports approximately 130 recipes (about 30 more than the first edition). Each two-page spread shows one or two recipes on one page, with an attractive photograph of one of the dishes on the opposite page. Simon Griffiths’s photos evoke the warmth and homeliness of many of the dishes despite some very formal styling. The photos greatly improve on the rather dowdy appearance of the 2001 book.

Publishers know that cookbooks with photos will almost always sell better, and this book is one where the photos absolutely draw you into the book and encourage you to make everything from Ladies’ fingers with chicken to Hummus to Easter sweets (Ma’amoul) or even making your own yoghurt cheese (Shankleesh). Pleasingly, every recipe lists the Lebanese name for the dish, though the index in this edition no longer includes these names. Recipes are clearly explained, tending at times to the slightly pedantic. (The 2001 version was from simpler times, when many cookbooks hadn’t yet assumed that people lacked the ability to judge seasoning or appearance without a precise measure or time.) In addition to Australian metric cup measures, there are also metric weights and volumes stated.

Although Abla’s Lebanese Kitchen is clearly positioned for an Australian audience who will be interested in her (brief) anecdotes about settling in Australia and introducing the locals to Lebanese food, the recipes are accessible and attractive, making this visually attractive book suitable for non-Australian cooks.

There is little reason for owners of the original 2001 volume to upgrade to this edition unless they want the visual joy of the new book.

This is an original review for The Gastronomer’s Bookshelf.
Main rating: 4 stars. Recommended
Visual appeal: Beautiful
Suitability as a gift: Likely to be strongly appreciated
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Abla's Lebanese Kitchen, Abla Amad | 2010 | AU, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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3 Comments

  1. Posted 15 Aug 2010 at 00:33 | Permalink

    I have the original version of that book. This new edition sure looks a lot better! Whilst I like the recipes in it, I must say the photography in the 1st version is quite… er… sparse and 80’s. The new one is beautiful.

    xox Sarah

  2. Y
    Posted 15 Aug 2010 at 09:27 | Permalink

    Fantastic! I had no idea this was out. I don’t own the original, so I’m looking forward to picking up a copy of the new edition.

  3. Posted 10 Sep 2010 at 10:26 | Permalink

    With Christmas coming up I’ll definitely put this on my wish list!

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