What makes food in the region so great? It’s our ancestors’ centuries-old knowledge of spices, herbs and fresh ingredients and their mastering of homemade and DIY cooking techniques.
Traditional cuisine from North Africa to the Levant is known for its mouth-watering comfort food that always tastes like home. There’s nothing better than homemade flatbread and malawi and the spicy soups like harira, or slow-cooked stews like molokheyya and some of the world’s appetizers—think baba ghanoush, zaa’tar and fattoush.
Whether you’re trying to replicate your mom’s best dishes or looking to try out new tastes from across the region, these are seven cookbooks by Arab authors to up your cooking game.
Feast: Food of the Islamic World
Lebanese-Syrian chef Anissa Helou will take you on a culinary journey into the Islamic food culture across the globe from Arab and Persian to North African heritage. From pita bread and chapati to boreks and Lebanese fatayer, from slow-cooked biryanis to Saudi lamb kabsa, Feast contains over 300 recipes for every taste.
The Palestinian Table
Spanning over 150 recipes, the cookbook ranges from simple breakfasts to celebratory dishes fit for a feast. The Palestinian Table explores local customs and traditions of Palestinian life and cooking, with personal anecdotes from Palestinian author Reem Kassis.
The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook
Being vegan or gluten-free doesn’t mean you have to give up the region’s rich dishes. In the book, Lebanese author and cook Salma Hage shares 150 easy traditional recipes, many with vegan and gluten-free options. Featuring fresh ingredients native to the region like olive oil, figs and dates, delicious vegetarian breakfasts, salads, desserts are just one recipe away.
Authentic Egyptian Cooking: From the Table of Abou El Sid
Food enthusiast Nehal Leheta brings over fifty classic recipes of Abou El Sid, one of Cairo’s most famous restaurants. From rich dishes like fettah to appetizers like eggplant with garlic and tahina, the cookbook is a must-have.
Casablanca: My Moroccan Food
Exploring the richness of Moroccan food, the book features about a hundred recipes including all-time classics like baby potato and preserved lemon tagine, sticky ras el hanout and peach short ribs or buttermilk chicken kebabs. Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou also introduces western classics with a Moroccan twist such as roasted almond and rainbow couscous stuffed poussin and Moroccan mint tea infused chocolate pots.
Levant: Recipes and Memories from the Middle East
Another masterpiece by Anissa Helou, Levant celebrates food from Syria and Lebanon to Palestine and Jordan. 150 recipes from soups and sides to salads and sweets, with some vegetarian options. The fried eggs with sumac, the kibbeh balls in yoghurt and the grilled aubergines with tahina, are a must-try.
The Iraqi Cookbook
Iraqi culture and particularly its cuisine has long been overshadowed by political conflict and war, but Baghdad-born author Lamees Ibrahim is putting it all under the spotlight in her book. From delicious dolma and tishreeb to the famous maqluba and mahshi, The Iraqi Cookbook is filled with easy-to-do authentic recipes and traditional Iraqi favourites. You can also find a vegan version of the book with recipes made purely out of plant-based ingredients.