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Book Review: Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking

December/January 2016 Issue
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Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking

By Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $35)

I’m obsessed with Middle Eastern flavors, so the Philadelphia restaurant Zahav has been on my bucket list since it opened in 2008. Living in Connecticut with two small children at home, I haven’t managed to make it there yet, but now I can visit vicariously through chef Michael Solomonov’s cookbook. In it, he interweaves his modern Israeli recipes with his own family’s history. I was captivated by his first chapter, a deep dive into tehina, also known as tahini, the sesame paste that Solomonov calls “the Israeli mother sauce.” It includes his classic creamy hummus but also a rich Tehina Semifreddo, among other recipes. A chapter on salatim (vegetable dishes) includes both traditional tabbouleh and a version made with kale, apples, walnuts, and sumac onions. Another chapter is devoted to recipes from Solomonov’s Bulgarian grandparents, underscoring his theme of Israel as a melting pot, and a delicious one at that.

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