Review: The Iraqi Cook Book by Lamees Ibrahim

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When I think about it, my love for Middle East cooking and Mediterranean recipes is what fuels my success as a political writer, reporter, comedian, radio talk show host and author. I love to cook and cooking Middle Eastern, Arab or Mediterranean recipes can be both a challenge but fun.

The differences between recipe style in the Fertile Crescent of the hardcore Arab World (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Palestine) are subtle and sometimes lost. When making tabouli, for example, the Lebanese put more parsley, the Palestinians less. Jordanians and Palestinians add diced cucumbers, others do not and just add diced tomatoes. (Depending how much parsley one finds on an Arabs teeth after dinner could help determine their specific Arab nationality, or at least at what Arab restaurant they may have dined.

So it was with real interest that I jumped into Lamees Ibrahim’s “The Iraqi Cookbook.”

The similarities are amazing and yet the styles of the recipes reflect her own childhood and I think that individual experience in cooking is what really makes cooking and recipes so much more enjoyable.

This is a great book that takes you down the road of Middle East food on the Iraqi track.

— Ray Hanania

www.RadioChicagoland.com

Here’s some more background information from the publishers, Interlink Books

Iraqi Cookbook, The
Lamees Ibrahim; photography by Terry McCormick

published 2009 • 7” x 10” • 312 pages • full-color photos
ISBN 9781566567480 • hardback • $35.00 •

“Iraqi food is often simple, homey and thanks to this rather sensibly presented cookbook, easy to prepare. Author Ibrahim—who was born in Baghdad and now lives in London—presents more than 200 recipes in what was initially an attempt to capture in written form the cooking traditions handed down orally through the generations for her children, but which has evolved into a formal compendium, illustrated by color photographs. There are earthy bean soups accented with cumin, turmeric and vermicelli; dense breads stuffed with ground meat, cheese or dates; and a host of light vegetable salads accented with lemon juice, parsley and olive oil. Ibrahim devotes an entire chapter to kubba, cracked wheat or rice flour domes that are filled with all manner of stuffings and then deep-fried, boiled or baked in sauce. Fried fresh-water fish, ground meat kebabs and cinnamon-spiked rice biryanis are other staples, followed by date and almond sweets and rosewater-doused pastries. With the easygoing style of a casual home cook, Ibrahim describes her dishes and ingredients in an appealingly narrative manner, encouraging a relaxed approach to preparation while explaining the customs and rites of Iraqi eating. Fresh and simple, Ibrahim’s cookbook is a welcome addition for those interested in exploring an intriguing cuisine through its most authentic flavors.”
—Publishers Weekly

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A cook’s tour that brings the richness of Mesopotamia’s culinary culture to the forefront

The true richness of Iraqi culture has been hidden for many years, overshadowed by political conflict and war. Yet amid the destruction, Iraq’s culture—and not least its cuisine—has remained intact.

The Iraqi Cookbook, the first of its kind to be published in North America, is full of authentic recipes that have been handed down through the generations, developed and enriched over time, and infused with cultures of different eras. The result is a rich mixture of history, health, culture, and storytelling.

Throughout the book, Lamees Ibrahim emphasizes only those ingredients available to a Western reader, gives useful tips, and suggests appropriate alternatives where necessary. The detailed, easy-to-follow recipes are adorned with specially commissioned photography throughout, making The Iraqi Cookbook a feast for both the eyes and the diwan.

In short, in this book of masterly recipes, and beautiful photographs, Lamees Ibrahim serves up a vision of Iraq and its cuisine that stays with you long after you’ve left the kitchen.

Dr. Lamees Ibrahim was born in Baghdad and now lives in London. This is her first cookbook.

Click Here to view an excerpt and sample recipe

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Media Reviews
“Ibrahim, who was born in Baghdad but has lived in London for many years, wrote this book for the young generation of Iraqis who, like her daughters, were born in the West and have never lived in or visited their homeland. She includes more than 200 recipes, many of them shown in color photographs. One of the few titles in English on the topic, this is sure to appeal to adventurous cooks interested in Middle Eastern cuisines, culinary institutions offering courses in ethnic cooking, and libraries serving ethnic communities.”
—Library Journal

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com