Happy publishing day to Bethany Kehdy’s The Jewelled Kitchen! Take a look at our Instagram account, Bethany will be our guest Instagrammer for the day.
Bethany Kehdy is an unrivalled chef of today’s new Middle Eastern generation. Bethany works as a recipe developer, freelance food and travel writer and food photographer. She also leads culinary tours across Lebanon and organizes Food Blogger Connect, a conference for food bloggers. Bethany is a Lebanese-American born in Houston, Texas and brought up in Lebanon, she spent countless hours learning to cook with her perfectionist teta (grandmother), her vivacious dad and her spirited aunts. Her recipes are a harmonious balance of classic and contemporary, as she draws upon her childhood roots while adding her own personal twist to these iconic recipes.
Nourish: Where does your passion for cooking come from?
Bethany: I grew up in a family that enjoys food and feasts. My father loved to cook and had and still has a big appetite. We also grew up on the ancestral farm in the mountains for a period of time during the civil war and at the end of summer my grandmother would begin preserving the harvests of the land as part of the Lebanese mouneh or pantry. These experiences are a big part of my memory.
N: How did the idea of writing Jewelled Kitchen come about? How did you enjoy the process of writing?
B: I was approached with an idea to write an introductory book on the cuisines of the Middle East and I had been at the time toying with a similar idea for a book. It was both enjoyable and agonising. I really didn’t know what to expect and it was a huge learning curve. I do love the process of writing cookbooks and the creative journey as agonising as it still feels.
N: Can you describe your book? What should the reader expect from it?
B: The Jewelled Kitchen focuses on the cuisine of the region; it’s an introductory book on the cuisine of the Middle East, covering the more famous and lesser known classics. The dishes are introduced in a way that makes them modern and accessible yet still authentic and maintaining the integrity of the dish.
N: What are your cooking inspirations?
B: I am inspired by beautiful produce in its season- when you look at an ingredient which is at its prime, it instigates this childlike excitement of wanting to take it home and all the excitement of exploring the ways in which you can present it as a meal. I also love reading old, scholarly cookbooks and delving into ancient culinary repertoires which often spur ideas in my mind. And of course, I get a lot of inspiration from visiting our Taste Lebanon producers and driving around Lebanon to see what’s cooking. My dad and I often vibe of each other too.
N: What was the first dish you mastered?
B; I guess it was that pasta dish I would make almost everyday when I was 14 for anyone that would consider trying it. I would make this sauce that was heavy on the garlic and olives. I seemed to think it was the best thing in the world- I don’t think I would if I was to try it now.
N: What is your favourite Middle Eastern dish?
B: Gosh too many! I’m into tabeekh or the stews and one-pots- so it’s mjadara, fassolia, mloukhieh, bamieh, loubieh b zeit.
N: What are the ingredients you must have to prepare a perfect Middle Eastern dish?
B: Garlic, onions, olive oil and spices- a well stocked pantry really.
The Jewelled Kitchen
£14.99, available from Nourish Books
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