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During a time of great conflict and sadness in Israel, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's new book Jerusalem: A Cookbook is a breath of fresh air. Not only does the book present a rich tapestry of recipes, breathtaking photographs, and beautiful essays, but it also offers a glimpse into Jerusalem's vast diversity of peoples and the food they prize most.

Both chefs were born in Jerusalem (in the same year, no less), yet they each bring distinctly different cultural experiences to the table: Ottolenghi is Jewish and Tamimi is Palestinian. Their seamless coalescence of traditional recipes from both cultures (as well as many others represented in Jerusalem) offers an uplifting and exciting view of the city.

Jerusalem contains prized family recipes and beloved regional cuisine as well as innovative interpretations of traditional Middle Eastern flavor combinations. (This comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with Ottolenghi's previous books and/or shops in London.) With many recipes they share personal stories and impressions of the city; the book is clearly written from both chefs' hearts.

Sure, the ingredient lists may be long (and full of spices you may not have), and the cooking techniques may seem unfamiliar, but the recipes are almost all easy to put together once you've assembled your pantry.

This week we'll be preparing a feast of Middle Eastern dishes. First, we'll start with Na'ama's Fattoush, a bread salad recipe from Tamimi's family. Then we'll crank up the oven for Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini and Za'atar before simmering a pot of Mejadra (rice, lentils, and fried onions). Next, we'll make an elegant Stuffed Eggplant with Lamb and Pine Nuts, and then finish up the week with a huge platter of Hummus Kawarma.

Win 'Jerusalem: A Cookbook'

Thanks to the generous folks at Ten Speed Press, we have five (5) copies of Jerusalem: A Cookbook to give away this week. All you need to do is tell us about your favorite Middle Eastern dish to eat in the comments below.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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