Silk Road Vegetarian is my second Cookbook review. I chanced upon this gem of a cookbook while in a local bookstore desperately looking for a book for our next Book Club discussion. We couldn't agree on anything specific then and while browsing, the cashier said that there was a 20% discount storewide and I got quite excited when she told me that. I quickly moved to the Cooking section and after browsing for 20 minutes through various other titles including those from renowned chef Nigella Lawson, only this book - Silk Road Vegetarian - got my attention.
I can imagine you asking or wondering why in the world would anyone be buying cookbooks when the Internet is filled with throes of online recipes? Its always nice to hold a book and review the recipes and salivate over the gorgeous pictures. Physical books have thousands of years of history and I still believe in them.
This Cookbook traces the culinary journey of Dahlia Abraham -Klein whose ancestors headed east from ancient Israel to central Asia, joining countless other travellers in the Silk Route, where both commodities and cultures mingled. The Silk Route was an ancient network of trade routes connecting the East and the West and stretching from the Korean Peninsula and Japan to the Mediteranean Sea. As you can see in the map above it stretches from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkmenistan, and passed through India and China.
Dahlia has now settled in New York but has captured her family recipes very beautifully in this book. The food she grew up with was an intermarriage of exotic tastes from Asian, African, European, Indian and even some latin dishes. The book opens with her culinary pilgrimage.
The Contents Page
It will be quite a useful book for all beginner cooks - The Spice Pantry covers the different spices which were a vital commodity in the Silk Road and without which our food will be so so bland. Needless to say. She explains with pictures what is a cardamom, fennel seeds and the different types of grains specifically for the novice cook. The basic preparation also covers freezing vegetables which I thought was something useful to know.
Diving into the recipes proper, Dahlia has divided her recipes into 8 section and starts off with the very Basics :
Basics - e.g Hummus Dip, North African Chilli Paste
Appetizers - e.g. Persian Cucumber Yoghurt Dip
Soup - e.g. Lentil & Carrot Soup
Salads - e.g Middle Eastern Lemon Potato Salad
Main dishes - e.g Sweet-Savoury Chickpea Curry
Rice Dishes - e.g - Swiss Chard Pilaf
Side Dishes e.g - Sesame Noodles
Desserts - e.g. Halvah Parfait
All in all, 122 recipes have been shared in Silk Road Vegetarian and Dahlia has categorised then under Vegan, Gluten Free or Dairy Free for the health conscious. Each recipe is wholesome and delicious. A real keeper.