Eat, Share, Love – “Shiny red and gold glass bangles clinking on the side of the pan, the smell of a warm, spice-filled kitchen, my mum smiling… I am transported back to this every time I cook dal. By the simple act of sharing our food and stories, we can make unexpected connections with each other which can bridge our cultural, religious, and ethnic divides and bring us all closer together.” Kalpna Woolf
Like Kalpna, most of us have certain dishes that awaken a host of lovely memories (and some sad ones too). Her recently published book Eat, Share, Love, is a delight. It was published by Meze at £22 (hardback). A unique collection of recipes from home cooks bringing together inspirational global dishes with heartfelt personal stories behind the recipes, it features a myriad of dishes from the UK’s eclectic cuisines, some of which are less familiar, such as berbere-spiced Eritrean stews, Iranian saffron rice and fresh Sudanese salads. Kalpna is not only an award-winning food writer but also a charity campaigner: In 2015 she launched her charity 91 Ways, which seeks to bring diverse communities together using the power of food to share stories and break down barriers. All proceeds from this book will go to 91 Ways, based in Bristol and named after the 91 languages spoken there.
The book is a joyous read, particularly in these dreadful times when many of us are opening our homes to the poor refugees from Ukraine. Every dish is accompanied by the personal story behind it, revealing touching tales of love, family, friendship, happiness, loss, kindness, laughter and much more. From romance blossoming over a tantalising Persian ghormeh sabzi to foraging in hedgerows for elderflowers to make Grandma’s delicious cordial and gathering with family and friends to make Moldovan cheese dumplings.
Here are a couple of recipes from Eat, Share, Love to whet your appetite – it really is a lovely book and might also make a very appropriate Mothers’ Day gift? The aubergine salad will be fabulous for those warmer, sunnier days we are all looking forward to and the bean stew will be a great standby for that inclement weather…
Sana’s Fresh Feta and Aubergine Salad
Preparation time: 20 mins; Cooking Time: 10 mins,
Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main
2 carrots • 2 small or medium aubergines • ½ a red, orange and yellow pepper • 8-10 tbsp sunflower oil • 1 packet of feta cheese • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed • Small handful of fresh coriander leaves • 3 tbsp yoghurt • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar • 2 tsp ground coriander • 1 tsp peanut butter • 1 tsp salt • 1 tsp pepper • ½ a lemon, juiced • ½ a pomegranate
Cut the carrots, aubergines, and peppers into small cubes. Heat up the oil in a wide pan and fry the diced carrot for 3 minutes, then remove it and fry the aubergine until golden brown.
Remove from the pan and leave it to cool down.
Mix the fried carrot and aubergine with the fresh peppers, crumbled feta cheese, crushed garlic, and fresh coriander in a large serving bowl.
For the dressing, mix the yoghurt with the vinegar, ground coriander, peanut butter, salt, pepper and lemon juice in a separate smaller bowl or jug.
Pour the dressing over the salad and finish by sprinkling it with pomegranate seeds just before serving.
Porotos a la Chacarera (Patricia Alvarez)
“My mum had a small stall in a market in Chile, but her dream was to have a shop, so I have done that here in Bristol with La Ruca. I have a café upstairs with a photo of me and my mum, to remember that it was always her dream. I often cooked the dish that I am sharing here for my customers, and they loved it. It’s something that we always ate in Chile in the summertime and was always fulfilling; we didn’t need any more food than that and it was the best we had. It always reminds me of home. This is a recipe that I modified from what is called porotos granados in Chile, which is made with fresh pinto beans (which are not easily found in England) and very big round yellow pumpkins. ‘Porotos a la Chacarera’ can be translated as ‘bean from the countryside’ where the maize is grown. This dish is eaten with plenty of fresh basil in the central part of Chile in the summertime.”
500g dried pinto beans • 2 tbsp olive oil • 1 large onion • 1 red pepper • 2-3 cloves of garlic • 3 tsp smoked paprika • 1 tsp chilli powder • 1 tsp oregano • 2 courgettes • 2 sweet potatoes • 2 tins of sweetcorn • 1 bunch of fresh basil • Splash of milk or water • Flour to thicken, if needed • Salt, to taste
Soak the pinto beans overnight, then rinse and cook them for about 1 hour, until soft to the touch with not too much water left in the pan.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan while you dice the onion and pepper, then chop the garlic. Add them to the heated oil along with the paprika, chilli powder and oregano. Fry until the onions are soft. Meanwhile, chop the courgettes and sweet potatoes into bite-size chunks, then drain the corn.
Add the spiced onion mixture to the cooked beans along with the prepared vegetables and 1 tin of sweetcorn. Let it cook all together on low heat until the vegetables are cooked. The stew must not be too watery.
In a bowl, combine the remaining tin of corn with the fresh basil and a splash of milk or water. Mash or whisk until it is all mixed into a paste consistency. If it is too runny add a little maize flour or semolina (any other type of flour will work too) and stir in to thicken.
When the stew is ready, stir in the sweetcorn and basil paste to give the stew a nice thick texture. Season to taste with salt. This can now be served as it is, or you can add grated cheese, a pinch of smoked paprika and chopped fresh basil to finish. Just use vegan cheese to make it vegan!