Flick through a few more pages and you'll discover the enticing pork belly with fennel salad and pomegranate vinaigrette, or the twice-cooked lamb ribs (lamb kustilji).
The collection of recipes from the Melbourne chef is based around his award-winning restaurant Maha and showcases Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.
Delia, 31, talks about the food that comes from his heart and his family.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR STYLE OF MIDDLE EASTERN COOKING?
A: It's the rebirth of Middle Eastern cooking, so it's not that old one-dimensional Middle Eastern cooking synonymous with hummus and kibbeh and tabouleh. They're lovely, don't get me wrong but it doesn't matter how good a chef is, he's never going to make hummus or kibbeh as good as your mum does.
I think what I try to do is bring that soul and flavour, and I've got a respect for Middle Eastern culture and cuisine, so to be able to bring that to the modern palette and just try to bring a bit of freshness, a bit of life into it.
Q: ARE THERE DOMINANT FLAVOURS OR SEASONINGS YOU USE?
A: It's very fragrant; a lot of orange blossoms and rose water; subtle spice - cardamom, cinnamon ... all these beautiful spices that in other cuisines are the little highlights, but in Middle Eastern cuisine it becomes the hero.
Q: WHAT IS IT THAT YOU REALLY LIKE ABOUT COOKING THIS TYPE OF FOOD?
A: It comes from the heart. I suppose every style of cooking needs a bit of artistic licence but Middle Eastern cuisine can really show your - I don't want to sound like a New Age sensitive guy - but you can really show your feminine side.
You can really bring out some beautiful aromas, but also what I love about it is that it's a shared dining experience and a lot of cultures can claim that but it's really apparent in Middle Eastern food.
Q: DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE DISH YOU'VE INCLUDED IN YOUR BOOK?
A: I think my favourite dish from the book would have to be my grandfather's Maltese rabbit - just because I've got so many great memories about it. It sort of really shows what Maltese food's about; it shows our ancestry ... it's got those really lovely spice notes that came through from the spice trail and from our connection to there, so it really resonates with me.
Q: YOU'VE JUST TOUCHED ON THE SPICE TRAIL, IS THAT HOW MALTESE FOOD IS LINKED WITH MIDDLE EASTERN FOOD?
A: Maltese food, it's never had a strong identity just because Maltese people haven't really had a strong identity. Modern Maltese food, do I really like it? Probably not. It's really Italian and it's not even good Italian ... but if we look back through time and look back at history and find some of those old dishes that my grandparents used to cook ... that's the food that I love; that's what I'm trying to reconnect with.
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR CREATING MIDDLE EASTERN FOOD AT HOME?
A: Buy the book (laughs).
Q: IS THERE ANYTHING EASY TO START WITH PERHAPS?
A: Start with your simpler dishes ... (and) learn the balance of spice. That beautiful Moroccan pumpkin and honey puree (a recipe in the book) .. I learnt it from a chef in Morocco that was just cooking in his little restaurant in the souk and it's beautiful because it's got such big flavours but such a balance of flavour. The caramelised honey and the cinnamon, there's really only two heroes in there but to get that balance right is not an easy feat ... so I think if you start with things like that then you can start to explore a little bit more.
*Maha: Middle Eastern Home Cooking by Shane Delia is published by Lantern, rrp $49.95
By Jennifer Chapman