East West by Shane Delia

Adequate words do not exist to describe the vibrancy of Shane Delia’s East/West: A Culinary Journey Through Malta, Lebanon, Iran, Turkey, Morocco, and Andalucia. To say it is beautiful is an understatement of epic proportions. 

TV chef and restaurant owner, Shane Delia, traveled the Middle East on a quest to unravel his historic ties and bring the unexpected, delicious cuisine of those places home to us. His journey resulted in this stunning book packed with photographs of the people, food, and shops as well as recipe after tantalizing recipe. The author states that the Delia family motto is Fortis et Hospitalis, which means “strength through hospitality” – and is tattooed on his arm. I particularly love that he starts off the book with that tidbit of knowledge. 

It is no secret that I am enamored with the Middle East and the complex striking beauty of the people and cuisine there. This book, like others before it and others that will surely come after, whisks me away to these exotic locales with each recipe that bring new flavors and excitement to my table.

East West is divided into as follows: Malta, Lebanon, Iran, Turkey, Morocco, and Andalusia and each section shares recipes, stories and photographs reflecting the people and their food story. The recipes range from a Pork and Pea Pastizzi with Mustard Mayonnaise to a Chicken Cornbread Dumpling Soup. Sweet recipes are included with examples being Chocolate and Pistachio M’Hencha and Argan Oil Chocolate Mud Brownies with Orange Cinnamon Ice Cream. The recipes in this title are not what you might think of typical Middle Eastern cookbooks – they are unique and exciting – and I appreciate that.

Shane Delia’s books are treasures – I have all three Maha and Spice Journey are wonderful as well. My only hope is that he is currently working on another.

Special thanks to Interlink and the author for sharing this fragrant dish with our readers. Our contest page has a giveaway for two copies of this book be sure to get your entry in. 


Preparation time: 30 minutes  Cooking time: 45 minutes Serves: 4

Rice and milk puddings (called sutlac) are a big part of the Middle Eastern and Turkish menu. I have been eating these for as long as I can remember-some good, some not so good, but none of them have been as delicious as the one I had in the Pontic Mountains around Trabzon. Such a simple dish of sugar, milk, and rice, but when it is cooked with love using only the best ingredients possible it’s a recipe for success.

Pistachio crumble

11 tablespoons (51⁄2 oz/150 g) butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (21⁄2 oz/ 75 g) sugar
heaped 1 tablespoon pistachio paste (see note)
2 cups (9 oz/250 g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (41⁄2 oz/125 g) pistachios, plus extra to serve

Rosewater sutlac

4 cups (1 liter) whole milk (see note)
1/3 cup (21⁄4 oz/60 g) baldo rice (or arborio rice)
1/3 cup (21⁄2 oz/70 g) sugar
1⁄2 cup (120 ml) rosewater
small handful mint leaves, to serve

Preheat the oven to 340°F (170°C). Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Using an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and pistachio paste for 5 minutes at a moderate speed until pale. Add the flour and pistachios to the bowl, reduce the speed to low, and mix until it just comes together.

Transfer the pistachio mixture onto the prepared baking tray and spread out into an even layer. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 17 minutes or until golden. Remove the shortbread from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Break up into a crumble.

To make the rosewater sutlac, place the milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer until the milk has reduced by a third.

In a separate saucepan, cook the rice, adding the milk, a ladleful at a time, stirring continuously, untilal dente. Add the sugar and rosewater, stir well, and then pour into serving bowls.

Place a mound of pistachio crumble on top of the sutlac. Top with pistachios and mint leaves, and serve either hot or cold.

Notes Pistachio paste is available from specialist Middle Eastern grocery stores. It can also be purchased online.

Use a really fresh cow’s or goat’s milk for superior flavor.

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Post a comment


  • heyjude  on  July 29, 2017

    I love this cuisine, too. Some of my favorite meals include Lebanese dishes like fette.

  • akrupnick  on  July 29, 2017

    Morocco and Lebanon top my list of countries to visit and cuisines to enjoy.

  • artmarcia  on  July 30, 2017

    I would like to try Slow-roasted lamb shoulder with nomad's jewelled yogurt and nigella seed bread. I just returned from a trip to Dubai and fell in love with lamb! My last evening there we had a similar dish in a restaurant and I would like to learn to make it.

  • artmarcia  on  July 30, 2017

    When telling friends I was going o Dubai I received the same reaction–The FOOD!! It was a whole new–and delicious–experience. Would love to learn to recreate these Mideastern cuisines.

  • lgroom  on  July 30, 2017

    I love the food of the Arabian peninsula.

  • lhudson  on  July 31, 2017

    Stuffed chicken wings with sour cherry barbecue sauce

  • sgump  on  July 31, 2017

    What country in the world would I like to explore for its cuisine and its people? At the moment I have to agree with akrupnick: Morocco and Lebanon.

  • Siegal  on  July 31, 2017

    I would love to try Turkish

  • PennyG  on  August 5, 2017

    Well, I spent three months in India a couple of years ago and I feel I only scratched the surface of its beautiful cuisine. I continually strive to deepen my knowledge of Indian cuisine.

  • pfaza2  on  August 6, 2017

    I would love to try any of the Turkish recipes. I've been to Turkey once a few years back and the food was fabulous.

  • RSW  on  August 6, 2017


  • Ordinaryblogger  on  August 7, 2017

    I'd love to try the grilled haloumi

  • Ordinaryblogger  on  August 7, 2017

    I'd love to try Turkish recipes.

  • LaurenE  on  August 8, 2017

    I'd love to explore Syria

  • love2chow  on  August 9, 2017

    What country in the world would you like to explore for its cuisine and people? Malaysia. I had the most wonderful malaysian food recently with a blend of chinese and french influences, and like the fact that the country seems to be a multi-cultural melting pot

  • abihamm  on  August 10, 2017

    I think that I would love to explore any country but the top of my list would have to be Italy.

  • WildCottage  on  August 13, 2017

    I'd LOVE to go to Iran to meet and eat!

  • t.t  on  August 13, 2017

    I can't pick one, but it would be in the Middle East/ North Africa–either Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Iran, Turkey, or Kurdistan.

  • orchidlady01  on  August 24, 2017

    I would love to explore all the regions in Italy for its cuisine and people.

  • TrishaCP  on  August 25, 2017

    I'm curious about the food from Malta.

  • AnnaZed  on  August 31, 2017

    I'm interested in the Goa region of India.

  • Lem9579  on  September 2, 2017

    Albania. I don't know much about this country. it has to have good food, look at its neighbors. It seems to be overshadowed by them but I bet it's hiding some great food!

  • tennyogirl  on  September 3, 2017

    I'm curious about the food of Myanmar, India, and Nepal.

  • OnlyTheBest  on  September 5, 2017

    I'd love to explore India for it's cuisine and its people.

  • bstewart  on  September 8, 2017

    Japan is next on my list!

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