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The Boston Globe

Food & dining

How a Middle Eastern cookbook became a craze

Gayle Squires was so taken with the hummus in “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” that the Central Square foodie stayed up until 3 a.m. making four cups of the chickpea spread. In Allston, Molly Parr equates the book’s recipes with TV dramas. “When a friend told me she was making the chocolate krantz cake’’ — which needs to rise overnight — “the suspense was like a season finale,” says Parr, a Boston University employee, and author of the Cheap Beets blog. On the Cape, Hilary Johnson, a retired mutual fund professional, is trying to satisfy her desire to visit Jerusalem by making the book’s popular chicken with caramelized onions and cardamom rice. “It’s like a little vacation in a cookbook.”

Released last fall by Ten Speed Press, a subsidiary of Crown Publishing, without the sales-boosting benefit of a TV show, “Jerusalem” surprised the publishing industry by working its way up to the top slot nationwide for cookbooks earlier this summer. It has sold about 80,000 copies.

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