Book review: Comptoir Libanais Express

19 December 2014
Book review: Comptoir Libanais Express

Comptoir Libanais Express
By Tony Kitous and Dan Lepard
Preface Publishing, £20

For Kitous, who arrived in the UK from Algeria at the age of 18, the Arabic food of North Africa and the Middle East is more accessible than Italian.

"It uses some of the same ingredients, but it is more diverse and it lends itself well to sharing," he told The Caterer in an interview last year.

If the sales of Kitous' first book, Comptoir Libanais, are anything to go by (6,500 copies flew off the shelves in 12 weeks in 2013) it seems he has certainly tapped into people's desire for dishes focused on vibrant, fresh flavours.

Now, in Comptoir Libanais Express, he has produced a collection of 80 recipes which can be cooked up in a hurry. The book provides an accessible introduction to Arabic cookery and will be useful to any operator who would like to provide a flavour of North Africa and the Middle East.

Following an introduction to the ingredients, which differentiate the cuisines from any other labneh (yogurt) and sumac (spice) among them - Kitous offers a selection of recipes dominated by vegetables, salads, grains and pulses.

Some, such as red baba ghanoush (aubergine-based baba ghanoush enhanced with red peppers and sumac), will provide a side dish with some punch to accompany grilled meat or fish. Others, like hot halloumi pilaf with broad beans, peas and herbs, are dishes in their own right.

The meat and fish section is small, but includes some highly flavourful dishes, for instance, sea bass with date purée and lamb's liver with pomegranate and mint.

I particularly like the chapter on eggs, with the likes of fried eggs with cumin-spiced fried onions and spiced mushroom and pine nut omelette.

All in all, this book is a useful addition to many a kitchen where there is the desire to introduce customers to some new and interesting flavours.

By Janet Harmer

If you like this, you may enjoy these

  • Comptoir Libanais, Tony Kitous and Dan Lepard
  • Honey & Co: Food from the Middle East Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer
  • Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East & Beyond, Sabrina Ghayour
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