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The Language of Baklava

The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber
Mar 14, 2006 | 352 Pages
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  • Paperback $16.95

    Mar 14, 2006 | 352 Pages

  • Ebook $10.99

    Dec 18, 2007 | 352 Pages

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“A culinary memoir that’s as delectable for its stories as for its accompanying recipes. . . . Rich, dense, and flavorful” —Entertainment Weekly

“Wonderful, touching and funny. . . . Honest and precise. . . . Abu-Jaber explores [her cultural] duality with a generous spirit and clear-eyed vision. . . . A lush and lyrical memoir.” —The Miami Herald

“Incredibly powerful. . . . The world described is so strange and sumptuous, the characters so large and comedic, and the descriptions of the food so enveloping and mouthwatering that you want to climb into this world and make it your own.” —The Oregonian

“Exquisite. . . . With humor and grace, the author explores timeless topics of love, cultural adjustments and what being rootless means. . . . [Abu-Jaber] takes us on an insightful journey. . .we ought not to miss.” —The Seattle Times

“Truly charming. . . . A fascinating memoir of confused exile, great food, and home truths.” —O, The Oprah Magazine


New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age WINNER

Author Essay

Recipes from The Language of Balklava

Subsistence Tabbouleh
For when everything is falling apart and there’s no time to cook.

1 cup cracked wheat (bulgur, fine-grain)
2 small bunches parsley, minced
2 medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 small lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash the bulgur and let it soak in water to cover for half-hour. Drain thoroughly and add the vegetables. Add the oil, lemon, salt and pepper. Mix well. Cover, and let the tabbouleh marinate in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Bud’s Royal Mjeddrah
Clean the lentils carefully, and everyone will love you.

Half-cup brown lentils,
cleaned, boiled and drained (conserve the boiling liquid from the lentils)
1 cup cooked rice
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, mashed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 beef bouillon cube
Half-teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

In a mixing bowl, combine the lentils and rice; set aside. In a saucepan, fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until golden brown. Add a little of the coking liquid from the lentils, then mix in the bouillon, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir the onion mixture into the lentils and rice. Serve with a nice cucumber and some mint yogurt on the side.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Poetic Baklava
For when you need to serenade someone.

2 cups sugar
1 cup water
Splash of lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
1 pound walnuts
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 box phyllo dough, defrosted
1 pound butter, clarified (melted and with the top layer skimmed off)

In a sauce pan, boil all the syrup ingredients until the mixture turns clear. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator to cool.

In a food processor, grind together the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon to a fine, sandy consistency. Set aside.

Carefully unfold the phyllo dough, making sure not to crack or tear it. Keep it covered with a piece of waxed paper to help prevent it from drying out.

Butter the bottom of a shallow baking pan. You can also use a cookie sheet that has at least an inch-high lip. Carefully unpeel the first sheet of phyllo and lay it flat and smooth in the bottom of the pan. Brush with the clarified butter. Continue layering sheets of phyllo dough and brushing each sheet with butter until you’ve finished half the dough.

Spread the nuts and sugar mixture over the dough.

Place another sheet of dough on the mixture and butter it. Continue layering and buttering dough until you’ve used up the rest.

Using a sharp knife, carefully cut through the baklava in long, straight lines to form diamonds or squares (about two inches long).

Bake for a bout 50 minutes at 300 degrees or until golden brown. Pour the cooled syrup over the hot baklava. Eat when ready.

From the Hardcover edition.

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