Baladi: A Celebration of Food from the Land and Sea, written by Joudie Kalla, features the “wide ranging, vibrant, and truly delicious dishes” of Palestine. Highlights include Halloumi mashwi ma’ bayd (Grilled halloumi, fried eggs, and roasted tomatoes), Salatet hummus bil camun (Cumin and chili chickpea salad), Khubez bil za’atar (Za’atar brioche twists), Salamoun bil arak (Arak-poached salmon), Rose and pistachio éclairs, and so much more. I will also be sharing Joudie’s recipe for Maftoul bil Sukar (Palestinian Couscous with Sugar and Butter) following the review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Interlink Books in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Joudie Kalla studied at London’s Leith’s School of Food and Wine and has worked as a chef for over 18 years. Even though she didn’t grow up geographically in Palestine, she was immersed in the food and culture through her family. Her mother, aunts, and grandmothers helped influence her love of Palestinian cuisine. Along with working at Pengelley’s, Daphne s and Papillon, she had her own restaurant in London, Baity Kitchen, for three years. She has also been running her own successful catering business for over eight years and hosts monthly supper clubs. I reviewed her first book, Palestine on a Plate, in 2016.
Chapters are divided according to the following: Markets and Village Life, The Fields and Earth, The Bakery, The Farm, From the River to the Sea, and Hills and Orchards.
Joudie’s love of Palestine shines through the pages of Baladi (“My home, my land, my country”). With a focus on the wonderful variety in the cuisine and culture created by the diverse landscapes, seasonal ingredients, and outside influences, you will find a combination of authentic recipes along with a few modern creations to pair new things with old traditions. Joudie begins with an introduction into the history and family memories that helped her put this incredible book together. She states, “we are made up of the fabric of so many experiences, and this is what I love about our food.”
The beautiful photography is provided by Jamie Orlando Smith. Every single recipe is accompanied by a gorgeous photo of the finished dish (particularly helpful for those new to Palestinian cooking). I especially love the striking photos of the scenery and people scattered among the pages. Each recipe has a headnote with background information, personal stories, serving ideas, and tips. The titles are written in English and Arabic (Arabic and Roman script). Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric.
This book is a wonderful pick for those interested in Palestinian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Recipes range from incredibly simple to more complex baking and desserts. Having a market nearby with Middle Eastern ingredients will be helpful in locating items such as fine semolina, rose petals, tahini, pomegranate molasses, tamarind pulp, grape vine leaves, cardamom pods, saffron, sumac, orange blossom water, mastic, nigella, rose water, filo, za’atar, bulgur, and halloumi cheese.
Maftoul bil Sukar (Palestinian Couscous with Sugar and Butter)
I have tried Maftoul (Palestinian couscous) in a few different savory dishes, but this was my first time coming across a sweet version. Joudie calls this Maftoul bil Sukar “sugared, buttered, and divine” and it is definitely fitting. Maftoul (cooking time may vary depending on the exact size) are simmered in sugar and water until tender, then coated in butter until melted and creamy. More sugar is sprinkled over the top to desired sweetness along with a few dried rose petals. Overall, it comes together in less than 15 minutes for a quick and easy dessert or snack.
Maftoul are small pasta in the shape of beads made by hand rolling bulgur with wheat to create a light and springy texture. They can be found in markets featuring Middle Eastern ingredients or even made at home. You can also use large pearl couscous found in the international section of most larger American grocery stores.
Dried rose petals can be found in some markets featuring Middle Eastern and South Asian ingredients. Check the packaging to make sure it is food-grade. I have used these rose petals (I like this product, but did have to pick out some leaves/stems) on Amazon in the past.
I also made Khubez (Pita Bread), Spicy Sujuk Puffs with Sesame Seeds, Ma’carona bil Lahmeh (Macaroni with Tangy Yogurt and Spiced Ground Lamb), and Mint and Lime Juice.
I started with the Khubez, Palestinian pita bread. Once baked until golden and the Khubez have puffed up, they can be drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds. There are so many other bread recipes in this book that I can’t wait to try such as the Khubez Taboon (Palestinian Taboon Bread- it looks wonderful as the base for the Labneh bil toum wa bayd/Garlic labneh, shatta, and poached egg on taboon bread), Sadia’s Khubez Falaheen (Homemade Flattened Pastry with Fresh Za’atar Leaves), Pistachio Puff Swirls, and more.
The Spicy Sujuk Puffs with Sesame Seeds were another favorite. It comes together so easily and is packed with flavor! With influences from Armenia, Turkey, and Lebanon, the spiced lamb mixture is rolled up in a sheet of puff pastry, brushed with a beaten egg wash, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and baked until golden.
Ma’carona bil Lahmeh (Macaroni with Tangy Yogurt and Spiced Ground Lamb) is a quicker version of Shishbarak (recipe also in the book). Noodles are coated in a garlicky yogurt sauce and topped with ground lamb, toasted pine nuts, and parsley. Joudie’s family served it during the winter months in El-Lydd.
We currently have so much mint in our backyard and it was put to great use in this Mint and Lime Juice. A large bunch of muddled mint is combined with fresh lime juice, ground mastic, honey, and sparkling water for a light and refreshing drink.
Maftoul bil Sukar (Palestinian Couscous with Sugar and Butter) Recipe
Excerpt from Baladi
Maftoul bil Sukar (Palestinian Couscous with Sugar and Butter)
- 1 cup (5 ounces, 150 grams) maftoul or large pearl couscous
- 2 tablespoons sugar plus extra to serve (optional)
- 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces, 40 grams) butter
- Crushed dried rose petals to scatter
Place the maftoul in a deep pan with the sugar, and add enough water to cover by about 1 inch (2.5 cm). Bring to a boil and cook the maftoul until tender; depending on its size, this should take 10-12 minutes. Drain the remaining water, add the butter, and stir over the heat for a minute or two.
Place the maftoul in a bowl and scatter over some more sugar, if desired. Scatter with the rose petals, serve, and eat straight away.