Summer entertaining à la Samarkand

Click topmost title to openHALOGLOWGRACEY

One recent, sultry weekend,

I received an intriguing cookbook:

Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & the Caucasus,

by Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford.

Having lived in Moscow for several years in the late 90s, I was delighted.

At that time Moscow was evolving into the sophisticated city it is today.Samarkand

Back then dining out was limited  to  fancy foreign hotels,

a few excellent Indian restaurants, fast food chains,

and  the legendary Georgian restaurants.

We loved the spicy Georgian food, redolent with garlic, saffron, and pomegranate.

The restaurants, like the people, were colourful, welcoming, and a touch exotic.

We never tired of warm Khachapuri — a delicious flatbread – served out of the oven,

full of slightly salty melted cheese or grilled brochettes.

The brochettes, called Shashlik or Shashlyk, are served in all of Russia and the former Soviet Union.

Russians say Shashlik the way we say BBQ –

and that’s a great reason to grab a copy of Samarkand  as soon as you can!

The book is full of recipes that are perfect for summer entertaining.


While there are many great dishes for winter, recipes like

 Lamb Kebabs with Cinnamon, Cloves & Hot Hummus are perfect

for summer’s casual entertaining.

I have made hummus for years but when I tried their warm version

with cinnamon, it was a big hit.

Fresh salads like Radish, Cucumber, and Herb and Grated Zucchini with

Pine Nuts and Poppy Seeds are easy to make but different enough to add a welcome twist to a predictable menu.

The authors weave history and lore through the recipes as they tempt

their readers with savoury and sweet dishes from a still mysterious region.

This is one cookbook worth owning – even if your book shelves groan as mine do.


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