When I  first received a review copy of Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume, I was full of anticipation, fully expecting a stylish book on Middle Eastern cuisine.  I was further impressed with the notes on the cover that  read “… with forward by Heston Blumenthal. “ My excitement however soon turned to disappointment when I couldn't find any of the classic Middle Eastern dishes that I've grown accustomed to.  It was only on much closer scrutiny that I discovered the pure joy of this innovative recipe book.

In Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume Bulgarian-born chef and food writer Silvena Rowe explores the food of her upbringing – her father is half Turkish.  It's a scrumptious collection of recipes from the rich multi-cultural Ottoman empire.  Her combinations of sweet and sour, fresh and dried, and rose and orange flower waters give a whiff of the exotic.

While many of the recipes show influences from the Ottoman Empire, others are contemporary Turkish, Syrian, Jordanian and Lebanese. Intertwined with the recipes she weaves in timeless folk stories, excerpts detailing the region’s history, personal travel tales and even some poetry.

All the recipes (including a substantial chapter on the sweet things for which the region is famed) are vibrant, modern and easy to read, with helpful  introductions – chicken liver, potato and chilli salad; sweetbreads in a cumin, sumac and mustard crumb, the cover picture, chilled sweet pea and waterc

ress soup with a rose petal cream; and on the desserts side three very interesting and different Baklavas.

Paging more discerningly through the book, it is no wonder that Silvena Rowe is being held up as the new Claudia Roden, the doyenne of Mediterranean food.  And apart from the recipes,  the book is illustrated throughout the spectacular photographs by Jonathan Lovekin.  A book definitely worth buying for any serious cook who enjoys Eastern Mediterranean cuisine.

Interested in buying this book? For the next 2 weeks Red Pepper Books is offering a special discounted price for Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume. Visit – Red Pepper Books – The South African online bookshop, they are able to offer you great prices on any book you are looking for, and they deliver to your door.

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