An Ottoman Feast

19 Jun

Inspired by Silvena Rowe’s chilli-scented king prawn and feta guvech, our dinner tonight had more than a hint of the Eastern Mediterranean about it. Ellie gave me Rowe’s beautiful books, Orient Express and Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume, for my birthday last year and again and again, we’ve found ourselves reaching for them come dinner time. So far we’ve feasted on everything from Aleppo-style cumin scented baba ghanoush to pistachio yoghurt cake, sticky honey, pomegranate and Ottoman-spiced chicken wings to Mahluba rice with aubergines topped with feta, and the sweet potato houmous has become a staple at picnics, dinner parties and any other dining experience at which we can possibly justify its presence.

Not only have Rowe’s recipes encouraged us to be more adventurous with our flavours – using a plenitude of sumac, figs, pomegranate molasses, pistachios and orange blossom water – and pushed us to shop locally for spices and vegetables that are not available in the supermarkets but are abundant in our local shops, but I find her descriptions and stories of the east have a wonderful ability to distract my thoughts to a world of sweet pastries for breakfast, a drop of raki with lunch, and dry, hot sunshine all day. I often find myself dreaming of an Ottoman adventure – having always wanted to go to Istanbul, thanks to Rowe I can now add to the list Aleppo, Beirut, Tripoli and absolutely anywhere in Jordan.

x Loulou

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