Zaitoun is the Arabic word for olive, a fundamental ingredient in Palestinian cooking, just as it is in so much the Eastern Mediterranean. But Khan, who is of Persian-Pakistani heritage is interested in the particular character of a cuisine that, as she says, "has evolved through the influences of Armenian, Bedouin, Jewish, Roman, Arabic, Persian, and Turkish cultures."
If that seems like an overwhelming number of threads to trace, Khan manages it adroitly, weaving cultural details, historical asides, and profiles of cooks from whom she learned, between 80 recipes. Given the recent abundance of books on the food of the larger Eastern Mediterranean region, we're happy to report that Zaitoun is not solely a collection of variations on humus, tabouleh, and kibbeh. Among the surprises here for us: quick-pickled avocados; a salad of radicchio, radishes, and clementines; a sharp and tangy beef stew with chickpeas and chard that is a signature dish of Gaza.
The book also contains an impressive index of recipes that are dairy-free, gluten-free or vegan.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.