Comforting recipes for your next dinner party
In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, a group of local women gathered together to prepare fresh food for their families and neighbours, discovering the power of cooking and eating together to create connections – as well as to restore hope and normality. This was the start of the Hubb Community Kitchen.
Together: Our Community Cookbook is a storybook of this West London community, sharing over 50 delicious dishes – many handed down over generations – from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Eastern Mediterranean to enjoy. These women have collated their favourites and every recipe tells a story of history, culture and family, using just a few ingredients and easy methods so that anyone can try them.
We’ve handpicked a beef and aubergine casserole and a green rice recipe that will make the perfect sharing selection for your next dinner party.
Intalk Alsaiegh’s Tepsi Baytinijan Beef & Aubergine Casserole
350g minced beef
4 large garlic cloves
¾ tsp curry powder
2 aubergines, about 700g, cut into 1.5cm slices
120ml olive oil 2
large potatoes, about 500g, peeled and cut into 1.5cm slices
1 large onion, cut into 1cm slices
1 large green pepper, cored, de-seeded and sliced
4 tbsp tomato purée
11 ½ tbsp tamarind paste
11 ½ tbsp granulated sugar
3 tomatoes, about 280g, cut into 1cm slices
salt and white pepper
basmati rice or bread, to serve
“Tepsi translates as ‘casserole’ and this is a traditional Persian dish of meatballs in tomato sauce with aubergine. It’s quite rich. You could make it with less oil, I suppose, but then it wouldn’t be so traditional – or taste so good.” - Intalk Alsaiegh
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Place the beef and two crushed garlic cloves in a bowl. Add the curry powder and some salt and pepper and mix by hand until well combined.
Divide the mixture into 12 equal pieces and roll into balls. Set aside.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan on a medium–high heat. Brush both sides of the aubergine slices with olive oil and fry in batches for 4–5 minutes on each side, until golden. Set aside.
Brush the potato slices with oil and cook in the same pan for about 6 minutes on each side until golden but not completely cooked through. Set aside.
In the same pan, fry the onion slices and green pepper in about 2 tablespoons of the oil for about 5 minutes, until just golden. Add the remaining garlic and fry for 1 more minute. Set aside.
Finally, fry the meatballs on a high heat for 2–3 minutes until well browned but not cooked through.
In a measuring jug, mix the water with the tomato purée, tamarind paste and sugar until well blended.
Arrange half of the aubergine, potato, onion, pepper, tomatoes and meatballs in a 30cm round baking dish, overlapping them. Season well, then pour half of the tomato sauce over the top. Repeat with the rest of the vegetables and meatballs. Season well and pour the remaining sauce on top.
Cover with foil or a lid and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 20 minutes. Serve with green rice (below), basmati rice or bread to mop up the sauce.
Ahlam Saeid’s Timman Bagilla Green Rice
500g lamb neck fillet or boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 3cm cubes
1 litre chicken stock (made with 2 stock cubes)
300g basmati rice
250g frozen broad beans
4 tbsp sunflower oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
40g fresh dill, finely chopped
2 tbsp dried dill
For the cucumber, dill and yoghurt sauce
1 cucumber, coarsely grated
500g full-fat natural yoghurt
1 tsp dried dill
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
“I have a master’s degree in chemistry, but when I came to Britain from Iraq it wasn’t easy to combine that with family life, so now the kitchen is my laboratory. With the mixing, pouring and measuring, I feel like I am back in my old world. This is a version of a traditional dish, which I made up. It’s a good centrepiece because the colour is so striking.” - Ahlam Saeid
Place the lamb and stock in a large pan and bring to the boil. Skim off the foam on the surface, reduce the heat to medium–low and gently simmer for 1 hour (or 11⁄2 hours if you are using lamb shoulder), until cooked through.
Wash the rice and leave to soak for 30 minutes. Blanch the broad beans in a pan of boiling water for 2–3 minutes, drain and refresh under cold water. Remove the outer skins.
When the lamb is cooked, drain and reserve the stock. Heat half of the oil in a heavy-based pan and fry the garlic until it just starts to colour. Add the cooked lamb and fry for 5–6 minutes until evenly browned, stirring all the time. Add the broad beans and half of the fresh and dried dill and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate, set aside and keep warm.
In the same pan, heat the remaining oil on a low–medium heat. Drain the rice and add to the pan, stirring until all the grains are coated with oil. Add 500ml of the meat stock, bring to a simmer, cover with a tight-fitting lid, then turn the heat to the lowest setting and cook for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the yoghurt sauce. Mix the grated cucumber and yoghurt in a bowl. Season to taste. Sprinkle with the dried dill and drizzle with the olive oil.