Creamy saffron-infused cauliflower soup topped with a drizzle of sumac oil, from Tahini & Turmeric, by Vicky Cohen and Ruth Fox.
Tahini & Turmeric: 101 Middle Eastern Classics - Made Irresistibly Vegan is a newly released cookbook by Vicky Cohen and Ruth Fox of May I Have That Recipe?, two Jewish-Lebanese sisters who grew up in Spain and now live in America.
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review this cookbook, which speaks to my soul with its modern interpretations of Middle Eastern classics.
I could never pick one favourite cuisine, but have to acknowledge just how many of my favourite flavours come from this part of the world: cumin, cardamom, harissa, eggplant, chickpeas, pomegranate, saffron, sumac, and of course, turmeric and tahini. And that's just off the top of my head.
So to have a cookbook with 101 recipes made using so many of my favourite ingredients, all 100% vegan, well that makes me very happy indeed. These are bold, aromatic dishes with vegetables front and centre.
Turmeric & Tahini has over 300 pages of lovely photos, thoughtful recipes, personal anecdotes and helpful tips. Split into 10 sections from 'day starters and brunch nosh' through to 'big-enough-to-share salads', 'kicked-up rice' and 'sweet endings', I challenge you not to find something you love here.
Here's a taste of the recipes on my shortlist to make some time soon:
- turmeric, apricot and pistachio granola
- chickpea and pepper shakshuka (the stunning cover recipe, below)
- falafel waffles
- fried eggplant, pepper and pickle chutney
- chunky eggplant, carrot and walnut salsa
- roasted eggplant coins with silan, pomegranates and pistachios
- lentil fattoush with mint and sumac
- cashew ricotta stuffed Syrian pancakes with orange blossom syrup.
Best of all, most of the recipes are low fuss and suitable for busy weeknights or casual gatherings with friends.
Saffron-infused cauliflower soup with sumac oil
I decided to try this saffron-infused cauliflower soup for the purposes of reviewing Tahini & Turmeric. I had all of the ingredients on hand, and have been having a bit of a refreshed love affair with saffron lately so it was an easy decision.
This is a simple and straight forward recipe that is quick to cook, but punches far above its weight in flavour and texture. The soup is silky smooth, delicately fragranced with saffron and really very delicious.
Extra-virgin olive oil infused with sumac and lemon provides a sharp counterpoint which is very pretty drizzled over the soup to serve.
I admit to cheating slightly to speed things up. While the cauliflower was cooking I put the saffron into a small dish and covered it with a little hot water to steep. Once the cauliflower was cooked, I added the saffron water to the pot, stirred it through, then blended it straight away instead of leaving it to sit for 20 minutes. Judging from the flavour and colour of the soup, I doubt anything was lost by using this time-saving little trick.
For the soup:
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium-size onion chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 large cloves garlic chopped
- 2 lbs fresh or frozen cauliflower florets (about 900g)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 cups vegetable broth or water
- 20 saffron threads
For the sumac oil:
- 2 ½ tablespoon sumac
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the soup:
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and garlic and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
- Add the cauliflower florets, salt, and pepper and continue to cook for 10-12 minutes.
- Add the broth or water, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender.
- Turn off the heat. Add the saffron and stir well. Cover the pot and let the saffron steep for 20 minutes. Transfer to a blender and blend until creamy (or use an immersion blender if you have one).
For the sumac oil:
- Whisk together all its ingredients in a small bowl until well combined.
- Serve the soup warm with a drizzle of sumac oil.
- Make sure to place a kitchen towel over the lid of the blender before blending the hot soup, to protect your hands in case it splashes.
- Recipe republished with permission of Vicky Cohen and Ruth Fox.
I was gifted a copy of Tahini & Turmeric to review. All opinions and words are my own.