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Aleppo Cookbook, The
Celebrating the Legendary Cuisine of Syria
Marlene Matar

Published 2017 • 7” x 10” • 352 pages • full-color photos
ISBN 9781566569972 • paperback • $25.00








“An extraordinary new cookbook by Marlene Matar, The Aleppo Cookbook: Celebrating the Legendary Cuisine of Syria, has finally brought the delights of the Aleppo kitchen to a wider audience. We could not have a better guide... Her recipes draw on the knowledge of Aleppo’s great chefs as well as experienced home cooks. Her gorgeous and comprehensive cookbook covers every aspect of Aleppo cooking, from its fish and lamb dishes to its famous jams. The book is not only a love letter to the city’s cuisine, but a crucial means of safeguarding its food heritage for generations to come... To cook from The Aleppo Cookbook  is both bittersweet and deeply emotional. Though it may seem like a strange time to celebrate Aleppo’s food when so many in the city are suffering, many from hunger, I would argue that there is no better time. For so many Syrians I know, their food is a potent reminder of who they really are.”
—The Wall Street Journal

“Syria’s venerable cuisine draws together diverse strains of Middle Eastern traditions to form a rich amalgam. As the nation’s largest city, positioned close to Turkey and Lebanon, Aleppo is home to Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Jews, and other ethnic communities, each of which has contributed to its culinary traditions. Moreover, Aleppo was the western terminus of the ancient Silk Road, so even Chinese influences are detectable in its cooking. Professional chef and cooking instructor Matar offers detailed instructions for preparing multiple versions of kibbeh, the Middle East’s renowned ground-meat dish. Other recipes offer tasty ways to cook vegetables for serving both hot and cold. Rich, sweet desserts conclude the book. Recipes are easy to follow and rarely demand hard-to-find ingredients. It’s hard to imagine a cookbook that can make a reader weep, but poring over the book’s richly colored photographs of Syrians crowding souks amid a sumptuous array of foods and utensils, one can only mourn their probable ruin in Syria’s current civil war.”
— Booklist, starred review

“The rich culinary heritage of Aleppo comes to life in this tribute to the Syrian city at the ancient Mediterranean crossroads. While acknowledging that war, migration, and climate change challenge modern-day Aleppo, Marlene Matar, Lebanese chef of television and cooking school fame, offers delicious ways to celebrate the diverse historical roots of Middle Eastern cooking in over 200 recipes for foundation dishes and fancier meals. Chapters include appetizers, grains, and stuffed dishes; stews, soups, and sauce-based recipes; flatbread, pickles, and preserves; and drinks and desserts. Nearly 30 variations of kibbeh are featured, including quince in a pomegranate meat stock. Numerous vegetable main dishes are included, such as a stew of lentils, bulgar, and caramelized onions, and a traditional Aleppian dish with the delightful name of ‘Hidden Love’ that consists of stuffed zucchini cooked with green beans in a tomato sauce. Desserts include lemony milk pudding infused with rosewater and orange blossoms. Ingredients are regional but accessible to home cooks, and there’s a glossary. This introduction to Middle Eastern cooking techniques will equally satisfy beginners or experienced fans of the regional fare. Cityscape photos and colorful prepared dishes captivate as Matar brings Aleppo’s aromas, marketplace, and table to life.”
Publishers Weekly, Best Books of 2016

More Reviews »


It is hardly surprising that Aleppo, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, is also home to one of the world’s most distinguished and vibrant cuisines. Surrounded by fertile lands and located at the end of the Silk Road, which passed through Central Asia and Mesopotamia, Aleppo was a food capital long before Paris, Rome, or New York. Its diverse communities of Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Circassians, and others contributed to its culinary traditions and produced a vast selection of different types of dishes—and no less than 20 kinds of kibbeh recipes.
       Here, one of the Arab world’s most renowned chefs unlocks the secrets to this distinctive cuisine in this comprehensive cookbook filled with practical guidance on Middle Eastern cooking techniques as well as step-by step explanations of over 200 irresistible recipes, such as Chili and Garlic Kebab, Syrian Fishcakes, Lamb Stuffed Eggplants, Semolina and Butter pudding, and the queen of the mezze table, Red Pepper and Walnut Spread. Divided into 15 chapters (Basic Recipes, Appetizers and Mezze, Soups, Salads and Accompaniments, Grains, Fish, Poultry, Meat, Kibbeh, Stuffed Dishes, Vegetables, Stews, Bread, Desserts and Sweets, Pickles and Preserves, and Beverages), traditional cooking and pre­servation methods go hand-in-hand with modern combinations of flavors and today’s desire for healthful and natural meals.
       Wonderful full-color photography of the food, people, and markets of Aleppo make this a stunning cookbook, a great gift for food lovers, and a fitting tribute to a beautiful city and the suffering its people have endured.

Marlene Matar is a highly accomplished chef and cooking teacher. She attended Beirut’s L’Academia Italiana Bella Cucccina, Montreal’s Ecole Professionnelle de Cuisine Chinoise and received a Grand Diplôme in cooking and pastry from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. In 1999, Marlene started her own cooking school and has since amassed a devoted following. She appears regularly on Lebanese TV and her work has been featured in numerous publications. She lives in Beirut, Lebanon.

Media Reviews

“Le livre de Madame Matar est détaillé et riche et fera référence en matière de gastronomie.”
—Walid Mouzannar, Secrétaire Général de l’Académie Libanaise de Gastronomie

“Lebanon’s answer to Martha Stewart.”
—The Executive Magazine, Lebanon

“Trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, [Marlene] Matar is an artist of the taste buds….”
—The Daily Star, Lebanon

“A fun way to improve on your cooking skills under the watchful eye of a professional cook.”
—At Home in Beirut

“The reader will enjoy a fascinating trip to the city whose people are so proud of their cuisine.”
Nouhad Dammous, publisher, Taste and Flavors

“The Syrian Academy of Gastronomy is always proud to encourage good books about Syrian dishes in general, and Aleppian dishes in particular, especially when written by Marlene Matar, in view of her vast knowledge of cooking and her many years of experience in the field.”
George Husni, president, Syrian Academy of Gastronomy and honorary president of the International Academy of Gastronomy

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