I have cooked a number of recipes from this book now, and the overwhelming conclusion is that they are over-flavoured. Don't get me wrong, I am not afraid of flavour. I have eaten at Persian restaurants and festivals. Although I haven't visited Iran, I have visited the Middle East, Caucasus and India and enjoyed the food on offer.
This week, I gave a run out for the lamb chops with rose petals, pomegranate and chilli. The flavours were interesting and were probably well integrated, if only they had been less intense. They totally dominated the lamb and produced something that was overly salty and covered in a powdery paste. When you look at the ingredients, you have 1tsp of dry spice per 100 grams of lamb on the bone. That's an awful lot. The lamb and dried lime, too, was overly dominated by the dried limes. I have had this dish elsewhere so I know it is supposed to be citric, but the number of dried limes (more than one per serving) just overwhelmed the expensive cut of lamb, and the saffron might as well not have been in the mix. And the cod with fenugreek leaves was interesting, overly spiced and the fenugreek leaves (which I had not used before) made the whole dish gritty - not a great effect. I have also run some of the salads and these were more successful and the flavours are unusual, even if the use of some of the ingredients (e.g. orange blossom water and rose water) can feel a little heavy handed. I know that any negative review of a recipe book is going to generate a feeling that I must have messed up in the cooking or sourcing ingredients. Perhaps that is the case, but I have managed to get very high success rates with other, similar books (e.g. Jerusalem and The Lebanese Kitchen) and on-line recipes. And I did source the ingredients at an Iranian grocer so I am confident in them. I may try other recipes from this book, but I don't feel that I will ever trust the book. If the success rate improves, I will revisit this review and revise it upwards. But I would be more inclined to look at the book for inspiration and then look elsewhere for the recipes. Oh, and nice as the presentation is with colour photos, some ribbons for place markers would have been useful. And less tight binding to allow the book to sit open at the desired page(s). **000
The nominations are:
Healing Foods by Miriam Polunin
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors by Lizzie Collingham
Bone in the Throat by Anthony Bourdain
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
Mistress of Spices by Chitra Divakaruni
I am kicking off two BGO Book Group Reads today. They will start concurrently but it will take longer to decide on the second read...
Please can we have your nominations for the First BGO Book Group read of 2014?
The subject of this read is Cookery.
But what you choose to nominate is up to you. You might choose to recommend a favourite cookery book (or one you want to try) from which readers could try recipes and discuss them. Or you might want to recommend a book that is about cookery in a more abstract sense. Or perhaps a biography about a chef.
Please post your nominations here. It is always a good idea to give a reason for your nomination and this time and it is probably necessary to suggest the context for the read . You don't need to post much, a couple of lines will do.
If you like a nomination please second it.
All nominations that are seconded will go forward to a vote.
If you are new to BGO or have not been involved in a BGO read before, please see this thread http://www.bookgroup...-bgo-bookgroup/ for some background.
And if you have any questions please post them.