AMINA’S HOME COOKING
Author: Amina Elshafei
Lantern RRP $35
Review: Monique Mulligan
Amina Elshafei was the first Muslim contestant on MasterChef Australia and she won me, as well as many others, over with her generous, kind nature … and her flavoursome dishes. Not that I actually tasted any, but I felt like I could taste them. Three years later, she’s released her first cookbook, Amina’s Home Cooking, which is bound to make fans and lovers of big flavour happy.
Having a Korean mother and Egyptian father has gifted her with a rich understanding of both cuisines, and in Amina’s Home Cooking she shares the best from both cultures with a range of traditional and new dishes to tempt tastebuds. There are Middle Eastern dishes such as Lamb, Prune and Fig Tagine and Korean staples such as Kimchi, as well as exciting new recipes, such as Sumac-crusted Trout with Heirloom Tomato Salsa and Harissa Chicken.
Flicking through the book, I found plenty to inspire me. First up, there’s a list of must-have items to make the most of her recipes. Some of these are hard to find – for example, I needed some baharat (a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, black pepper and cardamom) to test out the Egyptian Lemon and Garlic Chicken and didn’t have it so I had to improvise by making my own version. The end result was tasty, but I can’t help thinking it would have been even better with the proper spice mix. I had planned to make Spicy, Sticky Korean Chicken Drumsticks but didn’t have kochukaru (Korean chilli powder) or gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste). It looks like a trip to the Asian supermarket awaits!
The chicken kebabs and marinated lamb kebabs will be on a menu soon, as will the chicken and lemon soup. Our palate does tend towards the Middle Eastern food, so I suspect these recipes will dominate my menu planning for a while.
As far as layout goes, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. The food is well styled and the photography is attractive. For me, though, it’s all about the food … and I can’t wait to eat some more of it.
Available from good bookstores. My copy was courtesy of Penguin Books Australia.