One of my biggest joys these days is spending time in the kitchen cooking Middle Eastern food that I grew to love from my time in Israel. I discovered a wonderful cookbook Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi, who is a London restauranter, at a local bookstore.
Every week I have been making three different recipes, shopping for ingredients like eggplant, tahini paste and saffron and za’atar spices. I remember walking through the souk or marketplace of the Old City of Jerusalem, where they sold spices in large barrels where I haggled over the prices. Oh how I wish I could be there now.
My favorite memory of food during my time there was lunch made by an Arab Christian cook at a local congregation in East Jerusalem. Every Sunday, I would take the bus, looking forward to a homemade meal, something that was rare for us missionaries. The cook would make Maqluba, a savory dish with chicken, eggplant, tomatoes, cauliflower and rice. He would cook it up in a big round pan and then, plop, dump it upside down unto a platter, and serve. This was the traditional way of serving Maqluba and our mouths would water in anticipation.
On this rainy day in March, I am cooking Maqluba for the first time, hoping I don’t dump it all over the floor. I wish I could invite you, my readers, to my home to taste it so you can celebrate this special dish. Instead, I will share the recipe here with you for your own culinary efforts. Enjoy!
And stay tuned here on my blog for when I publish my book, Finding God in the Midst of My Mess, that includes my travels in Israel and my adventures in food!
Maqluba – reproduced from Jerussalem, A Cookbook, by Yotem Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.
click here to see recipe
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