Baladi, Baladi, I wish to write you a ballad… You are my new obsession!
Baladi’s cover reads, Palestine – A Celebration Of Food From Land And Sea– And I would sit at your table and join your celebration whole-heartedly; you have inspired and enlivened my tastebuds.
Nigella Lawson says, ‘This book goes to the heart of the relationship between food and identity, and conveys a sense of belonging through beautiful, compelling and yes, joyous recipes.’ Say no more, I’m in!
You will now regularly find her Mshaat m’a daggs (Cauliflower Fritters with Spicy Tomato Sauce), Batata bil leymoun wa basal akhdar (Lemon Spring Onion and Dill Potatoes), and Fayza’s idreh / Ruz madfoun (Spiced Rice and Lamb with Chickpeas and Toasted Nuts) on my table.
Joudie tells us that the word Baladi has many meanings, as do so many Arabic words, ‘my home, my land, and my country’. To her, Baladi is all of those things, not just in a geographical sense, but also to her home and her family.
In this millennia, every country has dealt with an influx of different cultures through revolution, takeovers, war, and invasion. But through all of the cultural shifts and upheavals, food has lived on and evolved.
Palestinian food is rich in fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs. Lands rich in citrus, almonds, and olive groves surround it, and their cuisine has always reflected this. It’s lively with the colour of herbs, pomegranates, and tomatoes, aromatic from citrus and spices. In her new book, Joudie looks at Palestine with fresh eyes and she hopes that we, the readers and cooks, will look at this country and cuisine in the same way, a cuisine that goes to the heart and relationship between food and identity.
Images and recipes from Baladi by Joudie Kalla, Murdoch Books, RRP $49.99 Photography by Jamie Orlando Smith