Délices des Mille et Une Nuits (Kamal Mouzawak)


This is a unique cookbook. Designed around the story of The Thousand and One Nights, this book is a work of art created by Kamal Mouzawak, written by  Malek Chebel and illustrated by Anne-Lise Boutin. 

Kamal’s contribution to the book is a special collection of recipes. Each recipe conjures visions of the famed Bagdad court and is infused with poetry. His recipe for stuffed cucumbers (cored and filled with rice, ground meat, cinnamon and pepper), or his baked fish stuffed with ground walnuts, sumac, cumin, thyme, saffron and sprinkled with rose water, are just two examples of simple yet refined dishes. Kamal candidly confessed to me last week that his favorite recipe is the one called fouliya in which fava beans are first sprouted, then cooked with rice, chard and a cilantro and garlic sauce. 

Most of all, I loved Kamal Mouzawak’s judicious choice of dishes which meant to convey through the subtle use of spices and flavors (rose water, sumac, coriander, ..) and specific ingredients (eggplant, Seville oranges, pomegranates, walnuts), the atmosphere of this magical period in Arab history. 

The book is rich with  scholarly pages describing the sophistication of life in Bagdad (Mosul, Basra, Damascus, Aleppo or Cairo) in the tenth century by Malek Chebel. Malek Chebel is a famed psychoanalyst, anthropologist and historian who has distinguished himself  with his works on Islam and the Arab culture (coined “Enlightened Islam” L’Islam des Lumières).

Last, but not least, the charming, dreamy  graphism of Anne-Lise Boutin. Her work uses a reduced palette of navy, black, reds, pistachio green and ochre which contributes to the fantasy-like images. 

In conclusion, this is a book which made me happily escape into the world of One Thousand and One Nights and which I will read again and again; I am also planning to make most of Kamal’s  fifty recipes and post them! 

The book today  is available in French; it has recently been translated into Italian with a most sensitive and scholarly effort by Fulvia De Luca.  Hopefully the English translation will be made available in the near future. 

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  1. Posted January 7, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Those drawings are amazing! Would love them for my living room…or kitchen…

  2. Posted January 7, 2013 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful book. Stories woven into traditional recipes is a wonderful thing. I think it is a great idea to take your readers on the journey of enjoying some of these recipes.

    Take care.

  3. Posted January 8, 2013 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    I want it!!!!!!

  4. Posted January 8, 2013 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    A wonderful book, every bookshelf should have it.

  5. Posted January 8, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Oh, merci beaucoup pour cette belle référence ! Moi qui suis une amoureuse de livres de cuisine liés à l’histoire, je sens que c’est un livre fait pour moi.
    Bonne année !

  6. Posted January 8, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    What a gorgeous book!

  7. Posted January 8, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    It looks like a wonderful cookbook, Joumana! I love the beautiful illustrations. Although I can read some French, I don’t think I would trust myself with a recipe :)

  8. Posted January 8, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I so want to read this. How fast can one learn French??? Perhaps I’ll wait for the Eng. translation, but what a great concept!

  9. Posted January 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I love discovering new books, new food, and new views through your eyes. Thanks for generously sharing your world!

  10. Posted January 9, 2013 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Je connais Malek Chebel mais pas Kamel Mouzawak. Un livre que je m’offrirai rapidement.
    Très bonne année 2013 , paix et gourmandise (plus, plus).
    A très bientôt

  11. Posted January 11, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Enfin le livre magique des mille et une nuits…aux mille et une recettes. Bisous et passe un bon WE

  12. Anne-Marie Petros
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I’m so happy you are covering Kamal’s efforts. His book, his restaurant Tawlet and his farmers market are a genius effort in Lebanon…..as is your website and blog!!!!

  13. Joumana
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    @Anne-Marie, thanks! You are too kind. As for Kamal, he is a wonderful person as well.

  14. Posted January 13, 2013 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    That is such a beautiful book! Fortunately, the person I want to give it to is very comfy cooking in French.

  15. Leigh
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Where can I purchase this book? I am intrigued. I took 7 years of French, but it’s been about 6 years so I am rusty but can make due. I am in the states, Dallas, Texas to be exact.

  16. Leigh
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Also, you have made me a fan of Kamal. I have been to Yemen, anyone willing to go there and do any sort of work to help people out is doing a service. It is the poorest country in the Middle East and one of the poorest in the world.

  17. Joumana
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    @Leigh: You can buy it on Amazon. I have heard from friends who have gone to Yemen about the country and its people; friends have told me that children there do not beg. They simply ask for a pencil.

  18. Anas
    Posted January 27, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    can’t wait for the English copy!!!

3 Trackbacks

  1. [...] bigarades sous la main, tant elle est délicieuse ! Cette recette vient d’un livre intitulé Délices des mille et une nuits, un livre à la fois documentaire et ludique consacré à la place du repas et de la nourriture en [...]

  2. By Sprouted fava casserole (Foolyieh) on February 6, 2013 at 6:12 am

    [...] with Kamal Mouzawak at his Tawlet restaurant recently; while we were on the topic of his exquisite cookbook, he let it slip that the foolyieh was his favorite [...]

  3. By Taste of Beirut – Sprouted fava casserole (Foolyieh) on September 6, 2014 at 10:41 am

    […] with Kamal Mouzawak at his Tawlet restaurant recently; while we were on the topic of his exquisite cookbook, he let it slip that the foolyieh was his favorite […]

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