Today I prepared a recipe from a cookbook I bought recently. It comes from Claudia Roden's The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. The dish is what I would call a Persian casserole made with basmati rice, dates, lentils, and chicken, beef, or lamb. It is flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, and saffron. I made it with chicken, as I am trying to eat lighter these days. It was delicious. Not being entirely familiar with Persian cuisine outside of my frequent trips to restaurants in my old city, I'm not sure if it looks as it should, but I suppose I can worry about that the next time I try it. I really love Middle Eastern food. Research for some recent work I've done has gotten me interested in the cuisine. I can now count it as one of my favorites along with Mexican, Italian, and Southern cooking.
I have tried many of the recipes in Claudia Roden's book and I recommend it to anyone. One of the great things about the book --and there are many-- is that it offers recipes from countries throughout the Middle East. Many also have notes that instruct the cook on how to make a particular version of a recipe, meaning, you may be provided an Egyptian or Turkish recipe and Ms. Roden's notes let you know how you might make the Moroccan or Lebanese version of it. It's sure to make you a convert, if you don't already adore Middle Eastern food.