in ‘jerusalem: a cookbook,’ a world of contrasts in every dish (a giveaway)

Fattoush salad from JERUSALEM cookbook

I CRAVE A SALAD—but one with something more substantial, not just greens. I’d also love an escape (too many garden chores screaming for attention—get me out of here!), but then I remember: I hate to travel.  Thankfully, I have found comforting solutions on both scores in a book I bought last fall, “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamini, an intimate journey through a cultural fusion of traditions and tastes. I’m making fattoush for lunch–the recipe is on the jump–and offering you two “tickets” to “Jerusalem,” too, in the latest cookbook giveaway.

The book’s collaborators grew up in the city—Yotam in the Jewish west area, Sami in the Muslim east—though neither has lived there for 20-plus years.

“The flavors and smells of this city are our mother tongue,” the London-based pair says in the cookbook’s introduction, acknowledging that they include traditional recipes, interpretations of traditional recipes, and also concoctions that draw on the culture’s gestalt but are theirs alone.

What I love most: Through the lens of these two master foodies, I’m looking at familiar vegetables (though the book is rich with meats and fishes, too) as if they are completely new. Example: a Kohlrabi Salad (with mint and cress and garlic, and a dressing laced with mascarpone and sour cream). The most common Allium in my pantry could become Stuffed Onions (with rice, pine nuts, species and herbs, and a secret ingredient: pomegranate molasses). I have been waiting impatiently since I got the book late last fall till there are fresh figs to combine with sweet potatoes into Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Fresh Figs (one of the most popular dishes, apparently, at the Ottolenghi restaurants in London).  And I am certain my first tomatoes will find their way into Tomato and Sourdough Soup—so brilliantly simple-sounding, I can’t resist. A whole condiment section at the back of the book includes pickles and sauces, from preserved lemons to tahini (which I plan to use on the “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” take on falafel.)

For now, though, while I wait for each harvest in its time—the spirit of the cookbook, like that of the city it honors, is to eat seasonally and locally—there is that more-than-a-salad salad I’ve been craving.

And here it is: Na’ama’s Fattoush, a chopped salad with bread and a yogurty-or-buttermilk dressing that could variously be called Arab salad or Israeli salad–like so many recipes in “Jerusalem,” the provenance is impossible to pin down. (Na’ama, whose influence is felt elsewhere in the book as well, is Sami’s mother.)

Na’ama’s fattoush

(recipe from “Jerusalem: A Cookbook,” copyright Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi; photos by Jonathan Lovekin.)


  • scant 1 cup / 200 g Greek yogurt and  cup plus
2 tbsp / 200 ml whole milk, or 1 cups /
400 ml buttermilk (replacing both
yogurt and milk)
  • 2 large stale Turkish flatbread or naan (9 oz /
250 g in total)
  • 3 large tomatoes (13 oz /
380 g in total), cut into
-inch / 1.5cm dice
  • 3 oz / 100 g radishes, thinly sliced
  • 3 Lebanese or mini cucumbers (9 oz /
250 g in total), peeled and chopped into
-inch / 1.5cm dice
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  •  oz / 15 g fresh mint
  • scant 1 oz / 25 g flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried mint
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  •  1/4 cup / 60 ml olive oil,
plus extra to drizzle
  • 2 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar
  •  tsp freshly ground
black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sumac or more
to taste, to garnish


If using yogurt and milk, start at least 3 hours and up to a day in advance by placing both in a bowl. Whisk well and leave in a cool place or in the fridge until bubbles form on the surface. What you get is a kind of homemade buttermilk, but less sour.

Tear the bread into bite-size pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add your fermented yogurt mixture or commercial buttermilk, followed by the rest of the ingredients, mix well, and leave for 10 minutes for all the flavors to combine.

Spoon the fattoush into serving bowls, drizzle with some olive oil, and garnish generously with sumac.

how to win a copy of ‘jerusalem’

Jerusalem: A Cookbook, cover

I PURCHASED two extra copies of “Jerusalem: A Cookbook,” to share with you. All you have to do to enter is answer this question in the comments below:

If the “Jerusalem” authors call that city’s flavors and traditions their “own culinary DNA,” what is the source of DNA that shows up in some favorite dishes from your kitchen?  Any heritage in evidence—any hand-me-downs or traditions (even if they’re adopted ones)?

My answer is no literal DNA remains. My parents cooked—but from “The New York Times” cookbook, all aspirational-style things we two little girls turned our noses up at. My one grandmother was more “Joy of Cooking”-style. Nothing ethnic–unless you count kippered herrings for breakfast (ugh!) that my English-born grandfather who lived with us insisted upon once-weekly, a tradition I was happy to free myself from at the soonest opportunity to fly the coop.

Don’t worry if you’re feeling shy, or have no particular answer. Just say, “Count me in” or some such, and I will. Two winners will be chosen at random after entries close at midnight on Monday, April 15. Good luck to all.

(Disclosure: Purchases via Amazon affiliate links yield a small commission that I use to buy more books for future giveaways.)

  1. Family influences were Czech and German (spaetzle, palacinki, prune butter, stuffed cabbage, sour kraut, sausages, brown mustard) while the neighborhood influence was Italian which seemed so exotic to me as a kid.

  2. Shelly says:

    Margaret, you might enjoy http://www.davidlebovitz.com. He was a pastry chef at Chez Panisse for 10 years and now lives in Paris. He is currently visiting Beirut and sending his subscribers luscious photos and descriptions of the food there. And then there was your photo and recipe. I think I need to go to Jerusalem at least in my kitchen. Thanks for the chance to win this book!

  3. My mother was a fabulous cook and she learned how to cook Italian from my father’s mother. My DNA will always be the tomato sauce my mother made every Sunday – because pasta was on Sundays (although it was called macaroni back then). She simmered it all day and had such simple ingredients – onions, canned crushed tomatoes, italian seasoning, and italian sausage. All cooked for at least 4-5 hours. THis is the sauce I make when I have dinner parties with my favorite food growing up – stuffed shells. My maternal grandmother was not a cook but the one thing my mom learned from her was baked beans (my mom grew up in Maine). We would have beans on Saturday night, just like my French Acadian grandparents. So baked beans and Italian american spaghetti sauce – those are in my blood!

  4. Nancy says:

    Kippers! Once at my house, and never again! I thought the smell would never go away. Re DNA: my mom was considered a pretty good cook, but she could still boil a can a peas for 10 minutes before serving it to us. Maybe from my dad’s side: those old German aunties could really do some damage in the kitchen.

  5. Daisy says:

    I have visited this beautiful book on Amazon a couple of times and considered buying it. It’s because of books such as this and through thid blog and your genious and generous spirit that my brain made the switch and I eat better and make better choices and really appreciate good nourisment. Nigel Slater’s “Real Fast Food”has guided my baby steps. My N Miami neighboorhood is as rich in good farmer’s markets as it is in the many ethnic groups that walk through the doors, I am blessed with this gift and it more than makes up for my own missing garden. So I thank you for one more chance to add to my blessings.

  6. Jennifer Hill says:

    My cooking DNA comes from having a big garden out the back door and frozen fruit, vegetables and meat from animals we raised in the basement chest freezer. No particular spices or taste dominate, it’s the produce ready to be seasoned that is most familiar. The method and dicing come from looking up intriguing recipes in books and now on the Internet.

  7. Emma says:

    Thank you for this recipe – I love fattoush. My cooking DNA involves making everything at home – very basic and simple home cooked meals. After leaving home I found a world of wonderful foods that I had never heard of and still delight in trying new foods, flavours and cooking techiques.

  8. Deb says:

    Born and raised in LA. We are all cultures and I think food is the best introduction. Would love to try the recipes in the boo.

  9. Lindsay Wheeler says:

    Meat and potatoes from my father who was from the midwest. Rice, soy sauce, crack seed, and pineapple from my mother who grew up in Hawaii. Thanks for the chance for the book. Love that kind of food, my husband is part Lebanese.

  10. Linda Siptroth says:

    My grandmother grew up poor and was skilled at both hunting and gathering, and throughout her life made meals of chickens from her yard, fish from the local creek, and rabbits from the fields — vegetables from her garden, cherries from the trees out back, and huckleberries from bushes on the side of the road. That’s part of my cooking DNA, but so is Betty Crocker and a lot of convenient “one dish” dinners perfected by my working mom in the 1950s and 1960s.

  11. Schirin says:

    Hmm… I grew up in Germany, with lots of fresh, local, mostly biodynamic food. Now I’m a farmer, so this influence was definitely strong. I love to experiment with food, and have tried some of Ottolenghi’s recipes before. Basically, my food DNA is adaptive to whatever is available locally, fresh, and better yet, straight from the farm. Thanks!

  12. Diana Pappas says:

    It is tax day so I’m afraid I have no time to wax poetic about my Greek culinary DNA, though believe me I’d love to! But please do count me in – I have two of Ottolenghi’s cookbooks (and love them) but not Jerusalem…

  13. Paula says:

    The Settlement Cookbook was my mom’s most consulted source of cooking ideas:
    “The Way to a Man’s Heart” :-)
    My Dad’s Hungarian-Jewish background- his father’s love of new dishes to cook, including egg-drop soup, and his mother’s excellent strudel provided inspiration, too.
    All the above mixed in with my reliance on the original Moosewood Cookbooks, and Laurel’s Kitchen guide/cookbook.

  14. Steve Lippincott says:

    My mother mostly cooked from Southern Living mag and cookbooks but I wouldn’t consider it in my culinary DNA makeup. What my parents did do that was at the heart of my own culinary adventures is they always took my sister and I out to dinner, instead of leaving us home with a babysitter. They sought out international and ethnic foods and wanted us to partake as well. That sent me off into the world with an equal sense of adventure and discovery. Well done, parents !

  15. Lauri says:

    please count me in (tyvm!)…
    I would have to say that there is definitely DNA in our cooking/diet coming from split heritage (Polish & Italian). although the lean would be more toward the Italian side as my dad love to garden & my Polish mother, having missed out on garlic in her youth, more than made up for it once she began whipping up culinary delights in “her” kitchen. ;) however, both sides of my family would contribute dishes to holiday potlucks and let me just say neither side turned away taste-testing, which usually ended up being requested dishes incorporated into the overall meal as good food was always appreciated in our household.

  16. Sharon says:

    I love to cook! We have a varied DNA in our kitchen – old dishes handed down by parents and grandparents, and from aunts who really knew how to cook. My favorite dishes come from the mountains of Kentucky and West Virginia. These dishes always compete with the Southern dishes we were raised on.

  17. Dyan Wapnick says:

    My cooking DNA comes from the New England kitchens of the Great Depression, with the need to make do with what you had. Both of my parents grew up during that time, neither on farms, and the meals their mothers made (the cooking skills my mother “inherited”) were mostly tasteless, not exactly nutritious, and in no way ethnically diverse. They were cheap and filling. Once I left home, I discovered a whole world out there of wonderful foods I had never been exposed to before. Happily in my case, my cooking has not been limited by my DNA.

  18. Aud Wilken says:

    Ohh I miss Jerusalem! The old city and its small stalls, booths, places.. But also visiting people in their homes and encountering dishes of different mixes, flavors, aroma’s than that of my own kitchen.. Would love this cook book!

  19. Margaret says:

    No particular DNA, I’m Irish descent, which means we ate mainly for survival, not necessarily for pleasure! However, in my many moves as a military wife (8 or 9 states, 4 foreign countries) I’ve picked up some good recipes here and there.

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