Divine Food - David Haliva

Divine Food: Israeli and Palestinian Food Culture and Recipes by David Haliva is one of those cookbooks that if I never cooked a recipe from it, I would still be madly in love with its beauty. This book has substance to complement its beauty - I want to cook all the recipes.

There are so many beautiful books being published each year that EYB members must feel at times that I love all the books. It's true I do love cookbooks with a white hot passion but only the cream of the crop. I share the best of the best with you because no one has time for mediocre. Divine Food is such a title - it is truly extraordinary.

Each chapter shares the history, culture and context of each region: the North, the South, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem. Breathtaking photographs of each recipe are shared along with the people, artisans, markets and beauty of the Israel and Palestine landscape. You can't help but fall in love with this book and the people of this region, as I have, and I haven't even touched on the food yet!

The food - is glorious - or as the title indicates - divine. Sweet Focaccia with Oranges, Lahm Bi Ajin (Middle Eastern pizza) and a Pistachio Cake that has me changing my menu to add this dessert today (photo to right). I just learned today is National Pistachio Day so I made a perfect choice. Bagels, breads, desserts - so many wonderful recipes in this book.

Update: After the popularity of the  pistachio cake on my social media, I requested the recipe to share and the publishers were kind enough to do so. You will find the recipe for the Pistachio Cake below the Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad. I've added my notes in italics. This recipe is a winner and everyone loved the cake - moist, zesty and so delicious. Thanks Gestalten!

This book is rich in history and you will find yourself, as I was, lost in its pages and stories. I am gushing, yes, but this title warrants gushing. I liken this title to Carolyn Phillips' All Under Heaven - the best of the best - for its particular subject matter. 

Special thanks to the author and Gestalten for sharing the recipe for Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad with our members. Be sure to head to our contest page to enter our worldwide giveaway of Divine Food. You do not need to be a fan of Middle Eastern food to covet this book, you need to be is a fan of beautiful food and a desire to embrace the beauty of another culture. 


Cauliflower is one of those beautiful ingredients utterly transformed by heat. Raw it is nothing special; once roasted in the oven its flavor mellows its florets crisp up, and it achieves something close to perfection. Fried or roasted cauliflower with tahini is common in Palestinian cuisine, here joined by cooked chickpeas with their earthly flavor and soft texture.  



1/2 cup (100g) dried chickpeas
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. coarse salt
2 small heads of cauliflower
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1/4 tsp. fine salt
1/2 cup (80ml) raw tahini paste
1/2 cup (120ml) cold water
Juice of 1/2 lemon


One day in advance: Thoroughly wash the chickpeas, place them in a large bowl, cover with water, and add the baking soda. Leave to soak overnight.

Day of:

Drain the chickpeas, place in a saucepan, and add water to cover. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until chickpeas are very soft. Set aside.

Fill another saucepan with water, add the coarse salt, and bring to a boil. Add the heads of cauliflower and cook over high heat for 8 minutes.

Preheat oven to 480 degrees F (250 degrees C).

Line a roasting tray with greaseproof paper. Remove the cauliflowers with a slotted spoon and place on prepared tray. Pour the olive oil over them and sprinkle with fine salt. Roast for 25 minutes, or until parts of the cauliflower have turned golden brown. 

In a small bowl, mix the raw tahini paste, water, lemon juice, and fine salt until smooth.

Remove cauliflowers from the oven, cut into 3/4 inch thick (2 cm thick) slices, and place in a  bowl.

Gently mix together drained chickpeas, roasted cauliflower slices, and half the tahini sauce, and arrange in a serving bowl. 

Pour the rest of the tahini on top, add a tablespoon of olive oil, and serve.


A moist, versatile dessert that is easy to make but still pretty enough to serve as an appropriate ending to a feast, this cake is part of a Middle Eastern tradition. It combines the nutty flavor of pistachios with the zesty freshness of lemon glaze, but could work just as well with a dash of rosewater or with candied oranges in syrup instead of lemon glaze.


5 medium eggs (I only had large so I compensated with 2 oz of flour which is something I usually need to do in this altitude anyway).
4 1/2 oz. (120 g) sugar
7 oz. (200 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 3/4 oz. (50 g) white flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
7 oz. (200 g) ground pistachios (I pulsed pistachios a few times so most are ground and there still are a few broken pieces)
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
4 drops almond extract

3 1/2 oz. (100 g) powdered sugar
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice


Preheat oven to 340 degrees F (170C). Line the bottom of a baking pan with a circle of baking paper, 10 in. (26 cm) in diameter.

In a stand mixer, whip the eggs at high speed until foamy. Alternatively, beat the eggs in a tall-sided bowl with a hand-held mixer.

Continue whipping, gradually adding the sugar until fully incorporated. Add the melted butter gradually. Put the mixer on low speed and add the flour, baking powder, pistachios, lemon zest and almond extract.

Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 35 minutes. I used a 9-in springform as I didn't have time to locate my 10-in. I checked the cake at 35 minutes and it was done - truthfully it would have been done at 30 minutes even with the smaller pan. I'm not sure if this is an altitude issue or my hot oven.

Remove the cake from the oven, cover with a clean dishtowel and let cool for 40 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving dish and carefully remove the baking paper. Mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl until mixture is white, smooth and uniform. Pour over the cake and allow to cool.

Cake can be served immediately or stored for up to 3 days in an airtight container. (It won't last for three days. It's almost gone after 1/2 a day.)

Good to know:

You can bake this in a 10-in. (26-cm) round baking tin or springform pan. If you are using the springform, you can simply place a square of baking paper at the bottom of the springform and then clamp the round sprung collar down over it.


Photography by Dan Perez, from Divine Food, Copyright Gestalten 2016. Photos of Pistachio Cake by Jenny Hartin. 



  • Marcia1206  on  2/26/2017 at 10:40 AM

    These recipes sound so good. Your review makes me hungry

  • tangaloor  on  2/26/2017 at 11:18 AM

    That salad looks beautiful!

  • Titch  on  2/26/2017 at 12:17 PM

    I love easy & quick to make salads thank you for reviewing this recipe :) x

  • gjelizabeth  on  2/26/2017 at 2:13 PM

    I'm happy to see this book, which points up the close human and culinary connections of Israelis and Palestinians.

  • jezpurr  on  2/26/2017 at 3:13 PM

    Alot of the recipes sound good!!!^_^

  • lebarron2001  on  2/27/2017 at 10:13 AM

    The recipe you shared Roasted Cauliflower and Chick Peas sounds really good.

  • Gachabot  on  2/28/2017 at 1:59 AM

    I've been dying to try this pistachio cake and the date baklava sounds amazing

  • rchesser  on  2/28/2017 at 1:58 PM

    Date and almond baklava!!

  • sarahawker  on  2/28/2017 at 2:48 PM

    This sounds like the food from home!

  • Elena Rose  on  3/2/2017 at 9:50 PM

    i can't wait to try these recipes!

  • t.t  on  3/4/2017 at 12:10 AM

    Everything sounds amazing!

  • earthnfire  on  3/4/2017 at 7:26 PM

    I love roasted cauliflower

  • ltsuk  on  3/5/2017 at 1:52 PM

    That salad looks (and sounds) fabulous.

  • PennyG  on  3/6/2017 at 9:27 PM

    This is my favorite type of food!

  • HelenB  on  3/11/2017 at 10:25 PM

    I love pistachios so the pistachio cake would be what I would try first. Yum.

  • Uhmandanicole  on  3/13/2017 at 1:31 AM

    omg. this recipe looks amazing. I can't wait to see what else the book has to offer!

  • DulcieD  on  3/13/2017 at 3:29 PM

    oooohh the cauliflower and chic pea is fab, just what I need for tonight's meal planning.

  • fiarose  on  3/17/2017 at 4:01 PM

    oh, perfect, the perfect recipe to have available--this one caught my eye! mmm, pistachio!!

  • hellmanmd  on  3/18/2017 at 9:00 AM

    I love how recipes from this part of the world are coming to the forefront: so tasty, generally healthyish, and often easy.

  • chasteph  on  3/18/2017 at 2:09 PM

    I would make the pistachio cake first- looks relatively easy to make non-gluten, and its got all good things in it

  • GregH  on  3/19/2017 at 4:51 PM

    I love recipes from this part of the world

  • Siegal  on  3/20/2017 at 11:49 AM

    The cover art is beautiful

  • AnnaZed  on  3/27/2017 at 12:02 AM

    I made the Pistachio Cake! I held my breath that American All-Purpose flour would be ok (King Arthur of course), and it was. Just lovely!

  • imaluckyducky  on  3/28/2017 at 9:33 PM

    As always, appreciate your review! Trying this salad tomorrow.

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