the momo cookbook

by momo mazouz

The Momo Cookbook Roasted meats seasoned with precious saffron underlaid with the pungent notes of cumin, cinnamon, and turmeric, marinated fish snuggled in a bed of almonds, pickled lemon and couscous, simultaneously sweet and piquant salads, delicate and sugary pastries flavoured with fragrant orange-blossom water, dripping with honey and served with a fresh rinse of mint tea. What more proof could there be that food for the body should be food for the soul? Small wonder that the worshippers of sensual culinary delights have anointed Momo one of the most successful new restaurants in recent years, for vibrantly conjuring up the atmosphere of a North African souk right in the heart of London.

The Momo Cookbook is much more than a recipe collection. Prose portraits of the land of the Maghreb (Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria) connect its rich history to the development of a distinctive cuisine which, over the centuries, has been influenced by Jewish, Arabic, Italian and Spanish culture. Stunning location photographs bring the colourful landscape, its traditions and people to life.

But the meat of the book is, of course, the food. The 90 recipes open a door to North Africa and fortunately the ingredients do not cost the price of a return flight: lots of vegetables, fruits, cereals, meats, fish and poultry which, with the artful use of spices, herbs and fragrant waters, are transformed into marvels. Momo himself identifies traditional recipes (such as mechouia, a roasted pepper and tomato salad, harira, a rich and thick soup made with cereal, and briouats stuffed and fried pastry parcels) as well as modern dishes created in the restaurant (such as fillet of John Dory with confit aubergines and polenta, dried fruit salad with aromatic spices, and boureks of crispy vegetables) yet easily prepared in a home kitchen, such as the one dish tagines. Although some of the more exotic ingredients such as orange-blossom water may need searching out if you don't live in a large multi-cultural city, there are helpful and surprisingly easy methods to prepare such ingredients as pickled lemons and almond milk, as well as a full glossary and meal plans. A doorway to a land where sugar and salt, spice and honey ride together happily will always serve up pleasure, whether on the coffee table or the kitchen counter.--Fiona Buckland

posted 03 Mar 2006 at 13:09:16

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