Community Kitchen: a collection of recipes from food-focussed platforms and enterprises
To end our week exploring Culinary Culture and Community through the lens of creativity, we thought it would be fitting to leave you with some recipes to take forward.
Over the course of this campaign, all made possible by our Extra Nice Supporters, we’ve investigated the various ways food manages to inform and inspire our creativity. We’ve spent time discovering how food can further narratives within fiction, especially if you’re one particular family living in Springfield. We’ve visited the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen and founder and editor of Mold magazine, LinYee Yuan, has shown us how “the most ethical (and delicious) approach to consumption” could be to eat seasonally and locally. In the design world, we then travelled across from Cincinnati to Goa via Berlin all through the creative thinking that goes into designing a food truck, and, raised vital questions around the responsibility of a graphic designer to aid society to make necessary sustainable choices.
But at the heart of it all has been the personal stories, attachments and joy individuals find in the food they cook. Below, therefore, you will find a selection of recipes from food-focused organisations, platforms and enterprises we believe to be doing wonderful work in an industry we have loved diving into. Tuck in!
Heart & Parcel
Heart & Parcel is a food and education focussed non-profit based in Manchester. The organisation works with people currently learning English “to recognise, celebrate and develop their existing rich skills and knowledge,” through free cooking and English language classes.
Its main source of income is via the sales of Cook Eat Write Share, a fundraising cookbook of delicious recipes donated by the learners of its projects. If you’re able to support, you can pick up the last remaining copies here. This recipe is contributed by Clare Courtney, Heart & Parcel’s managing director.
Burani bajenjan e seya | بوراني بادنجان سياه | Eggplant Burani | layered braised aubergine with yoghurt and mint
This dish was taught to us by Liza, one of our English language learners. Liza is from Afghanistan and lives in north Manchester with her husband and three children. She learnt this dish herself from her older sister, who lives back near Kabul.
I chose this dish as when Liza taught me via Whatsapp videos and voice notes for our English and cooking lesson, I was amazed by how delicious, quick and cheap it was to make, with fresh everyday ingredients using a variety of different cooking techniques and processes that I had never seen before. This experience for me is representative of the work we do at Heart & Parcel: learning from each other, making connections through our food, our ingredients, processes and memories behind our own culinary repertoires.
I love eating Eggplant Burani around this time of year; the warming chilli throughout the dish, the sweetness of the braised vegetables and sharp yoghurt makes a really delicious meal to share with loved ones on dark, autumnal evenings. This recipe will be in our second cookbook coming out next year and you can get involved in making it happen here.
“I was amazed by how delicious, quick and cheap it was to make, with fresh everyday ingredients using a variety of different cooking techniques and processes that I had never seen before.”Clare Courtney, Heart & Parcel
Ingredients (serves two)
- 2 aubergines, sliced lengthways into medium-thick slices
- 2 tbsp salt (to salt the aubergine)
- 2-3 tbsp oil (to fry the aubergine)
- 1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
- 3 small green chillies, sliced lengthways, with seeds left in
- 3 large tomatoes, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
- 1/2 a tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 a tsp ground coriander
- 3 tbsp oil (rapeseed, sunflower or vegetable oil)
- 2 tsp tomato puree
- 3/4 of a cup of water
- 1/2 a tsp ground turmeric
For the Burani (yoghurt sauce)
- 1-2 tbsp dried mint (Liza really likes mint so you can use more if you want)
- 3-4 tsp salt
- 6-7 tbsp oil
- 5-6 tbsp yoghurt
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped
- 1 handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 of 2
Heart & Parcel: Cook Eat Write Share (Copyright © Heart & Parcel, 2021)
- First, salt the aubergine slices with two to three teaspoons of salt and set aside for 15 minutes.
- Next, heat two tablespoons of oil in a pan and cook the aubergine slices in batches until brown, place four to five slices straight into the bottom of the big saucepan.
- Layer up with half the amount of green peppers, tomatoes, green chillies.
- Add the ground coriander and cumin.
- Layer again with the remaining vegetables above and two cloves of crushed garlic.
- Make the sauce: in a frying pan, heat three tablespoons of oil and then, when almost hot, add two teaspoons of tomato puree, mix quickly whilst sizzling and almost instantly add the three quarter cup water to the pan. Stir quickly for one minute.
- Add half a teaspoon of salt to the sauce. Stir. Pour over the top of the layered vegetables.
- Take the lid of the saucepan and cover with tin foil to keep the steam in. Cover the saucepan with the lid and put on low heat for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the Burani: mix yoghurt, one clove of crushed garlic, half a teaspoon of salt, dried mint and half a teaspoon of red chilli powder together. Stir really well together, use a whisk to combine it well.
- After ten minutes, take the top off the saucepan and sprinkle turmeric over the top.
- The vegetables are done when all the water has disappeared from the saucepan, and only oil remains.
- Plate up. Spoon the vegetables with the sauce onto the plate, drizzle the oil from the saucepan over the top, and spoon the Burani over the top, sprinkle fresh mint, dried mint and fresh coriander over the top.
You can see the process and final dish here as part of the organisation’s live-streamed English and cooking classes over Covid. Heart & Parcel is currently raising funds for its next cookbook, From Home to Home, which you can support by donating to its GoFundMe page here.
Unto, a company redefining the olive oil market, began as a rural recovery project in neglected areas of Tuscany by three friends. Each with very different backgrounds spanning agronomy, engineering and design, the product is the embodiment of their shared aspiration to revisit, and tend to, the Tuscan heritage they each grew up in. Its first product, an organic extra virgin olive oil, is the first step in bringing this dream to life (which you can purchase via its website or at the Italo Deli in Vauxhall, if you happen to be in London). Its visual identity (we’re sure you’ve noticed) is by London-based studio, Studio Bergini.
To offer a little insight into how a product like Unto may come to life, co-founder Giulio Ammendola shares this delicious recipe.
“Like stale bread, abandoned olive groves could seem of little importance to many, but with the right ingredients you can make something delicious out of it...”Giulio Ammendola, Unto
Pappa al Pomodoro
Pappa al Pomodoro is a special soup made with really simple ingredients everyone can get their hands on. This quintessential Tuscan dish has humble origins as it was originally created by farmers as a way to reuse stale or leftover bread and bring it back to life with the help of delicious olive oil, sage and tomatoes. In a strange turn of events, it then rose to fame when Nino Rota (8½, la Dolce Vita, The Godfather…) wrote the music for a children's song named after the dish, making sure it would reach us here today.
When discussing what to cook for this occasion, we immediately thought of this recipe because it has a lot in common with why we have started Unto. Like stale bread, abandoned olive groves could seem of little importance to many, but with the right ingredients, you can make something delicious out of it...
(Copyright © Unto, 2021)
Ingredients (serves four)
- 2 400g tinned tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 a loaf of sourdough
- 200ml vegetable stock
- A pinch of sugar
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sage leaves
- Start by slicing the bread into thick slices. If you are using stale bread (awesome!) and it’s too hard to cut, you can douse it with water and cut it into cubes.
- Peel and slice the garlic.
- Heat five tablespoons of olive oil in a large thick-bottom pan.
- Add the sage and the garlic, and carefully pour in the stock with a ladle.
- When the garlic starts to go golden, you are ready to add the bread (you can repeat this step if your pan is too small to fit all the bread).
- Fry on a medium heat until the stock is absorbed and the bread has soaked in the oil.
- Add the tinned tomatoes and season.
- Stir to mush the bread and cook for 15 minutes (you can add water as needed to loosen the soup, we prefer the soup to have a thick consistency).
- Continue cooking for five minutes.
- Serve by adding an extra bit of olive oil (!) and basil leaves.
We recently enjoyed this dish at our monthly event as it’s something you can easily make in large quantities, it doesn’t break the bank and is very filling. In the summer it can also be made with fresh tomatoes and enjoyed at room temperature, often as a starter, and paired with a little glass of Sangiovese.
You can follow every step of Unto’s journey here, or if local, you can attend one of its monthly soup clubs too.
Sahten (by SkatePal)
The idea for SkatePal, a non-profit organisation supporting communities throughout Palestine by promoting “the social, health and wellbeing benefits of skateboarding,” first came to mind while skateboarder Charlie Davis was volunteering as an English teacher back in 2006. The charity itself was then established in 2013, with a growing team of volunteers who return to Palestine regularly. In 2020 however, SkatePal released its first cookbook, Sahten – a phrase used in Palestine when food is served. “A bit like bon appetit,” says its team.
While the combination of cooking and skateboarding may at first seem unusual, Sahten’s creators reason that, within Palestine, “the culture of food and coffee encompasses every meeting, occasion and increasingly skateboarding session... Large shared plates bring people together to share stories, exchange family news, all whilst enjoying the delights of local produce.” And so, with it being a physically demanding sport, “skateboarding warrants big appetites, from pre-skate falafel to hearty post-session home-cooked Maqluba or Nabulsi Kanafeh with the whole family.”
Sahten, therefore, embodies this connection, painting “a picture of the current skateboarding scene in Palestine, told in the form of a cookbook.” Collating recipes that have passed through generations, as well as those developed specifically for the book itself, the title additionally features interviews, photographs and illustrations to highlight an “amazing community built around skateboarding over the years,” explains the team. “Some dishes are easy to make, perfect as a quick bite, some are heavier meals perfect for gatherings and better enjoyed after the session, and some are perfect anytime of day.”
Below, the SkatePal team shares a recipe from local manager Arab Sabbah and his mum, Sorida.
“A picture of the current skateboarding scene in Palestine, told in the form of a cookbook.”SkatePal
SkatePal: Sahten (Copyright © SkatePal, 2020)
SkatePal: Sahten (Copyright © SkatePal, 2020)
Malouf by Aram and Sorida Sabbah
Since graduating from university in Tunisia, Aram Sabbah باحّص آرام moved back to Ramallah in 2019 and took on the role of SkatePal’s local manager, having been part of the family since day one. Originally from Jenin, a city in the north of the West Bank, Aram was first introduced to skateboarding in 2012 and has since become a pillar of Palestine’s skate community.
In 2019, Aram was invited to take part in the “Globally Stoked” panel discussion at the Pushing Boarders skateboarding conference in Malmö, Sweden, to discuss the impact of international skate-NGOs on local communities around the world. When asked which food he most craves when away from home, Aram didn’t hesitate for a second.
“Malfouf! We gotta make it, but I gotta check when my mother is free ‘cause I don’t know what I’m doing…”
No matter where you go in the world, some things remain the same. Food is comfort and comfort is home. And so we found ourselves in the family home of Aram (SkatePal’s local manager) and his mother Sorida, born and raised in Columbia, but to Palestinian parents who ensured she understood her roots – which of course means learning how to prepare malfouf. Here, in their cosy Ramallah home, a mix of SkatePal volunteers, Aram’s school friends, and a couple of other visiting skaters gathered around a large plate piled high with tightly wrapped cabbage leaves filled with spiced meat and rice. Malfouf is similar to stuffed grape leaves, commonly known as “dolmas” or “warak enab” in the Arab world, yet Aram assures us there is no comparison. Nothing draws him more towards his home country than the prospect of his mother’s home-cooked malfouf. So here it is...
- 750g minced beef
- 500g white rice
- 4 white cabbage leaves
- 12 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp cumin (ground)
- 1 tbsp cinnamon (ground)
- 1 tbsp cardamom (ground)
- 1 tbsp nutmeg (ground)
- 1 litre natural yoghurt
- Salt and pepper
- Cover the rice with boiling water and allow it to stand for 15-20 mins. It doesn’t need to cook fully as we’ll be cooking it later in the process.
- Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a simmer. One by one (depending on the size of your spot) place the cabbages in the water and cook for five minutes, turning occasionally until the outer leaves are softened and translucent (but not like a wet tissue).
- Using tongs lift the cabbage out of the water, let the majority of the water drip back into the pot (don’t turn the hob off), before placing onto a chopping board until cool enough to handle.
- Carefully remove the cooked leaves and put them to one side. Place the cabbage back into the water to cook the next layer of leaves, turning occasionally. Repeat this process until just the stalk is left. This takes a while but it’s totally worth it!
- After the rice has stood for 15-20 minutes, drain using a sieve, then rinse with cold water for a minute just to clean it. Combine it with the raw minced meat and spices. Season with salt and pepper and mix together using your hands.
- Now to pull everything together. One by one, arrange a small line of the rice mixture inside a leaf and roll, sealing the edges, burrito style. For those of you who smoke roll-ups, this is your time to shine. (Sorida recommends keeping the veins of the leaf horizontal when rolling – it’ll make your life easier – and don’t forget the rice will expand again when it cooks, so don’t overfill them!)
- When all the cabbage leaves are rolled, place them back into the same pot that you used to separate the leaves. Stack them layer by layer, adding three to four peeled cloves of garlic to each layer. Use any over-cooked leaves that couldn’t be used for rolling to cover the cabbage “cigars”. Refill the pot with the water you used to cook the cabbage, return the pot to the boil, and place a lid on the top. Cook for around 15 to 20 mins, topping up with water if necessary.
- Once the cigars are feeling firm, the meat should be cooked and ready to eat. Drain any remaining water and tip the steaming cigars onto a plate. Separate the natural yoghurt between a few dishes, and serve with freshly toasted pitta.
You can purchase a copy of this wonderful book via SkatePal here.
History Eats is an educational platform created by food historian, Eleanor Barnett. A previous PhD student at the University of Cambridge, each day Eleanor shares historical artwork, stories of food and recipes to “a wonderful community of food, history, and art fans,” she tells It’s Nice That. With a wealth of knowledge – one of her areas of expertise is the role of food in religions of the early modern period, for example – History Eats is Eleanor’s way of sharing her “love for food history beyond my immediate research,” she adds, “it’s such a wonderful way of connecting to past cultures across the world!”
Eleanor is also currently working on a book about the history of food waste, leftovers and sustainability, but for now, has shared a suitable historical recipe from the Tudor period for us.
Jumbles, or Knot Biscuits, were a popular choice for early modern feasts. I’ve chosen this recipe as it offers a really simple way to experience some of the flavours enjoyed by those living in Tudor England. Rosewater, for instance, is a delicate floral flavour less familiar to many of us today, but if you’ve ever enjoyed a Turkish Delight (Lokum) you’ll understand the appeal. The name “jumble” likely comes from the Latin “gemellus”, meaning “twins”, a reference to the knot shape of the biscuit, which is formed with two strands of dough. This is just one of many ways of making jumbles, adapted from an early modern source, which I picked up during a fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC. Enjoy with a nice cup of tea!
- 2 sticks butter
- 3 1/3 cups flour
- 1 cup 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 eggs and 1 yolk
- 1 tbsp rosewater
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 tsp aniseed
- 1 tsp ground mace
- Beat the butter with the rosewater and cream with the sugar.
- Beat the eggs and mix in the spices.
- Work in the flour until you make a stiff dough.
- Make into long rolls about 5mm in diameter.
- Shape into knots, letters, plaits or whatever you'd like!
- Bake for 20-25 minutes in a medium oven.
While putting together this series on Culinary Culture and Community there was also a longlist of resources and food-focused publications we came across we’re keen to share. Each furthering the conversation around food – whether it’s through community groups, sustainable initiatives or learning – we definitely recommend supporting them where you can, or just keeping a close eye on the all-important work they do.
If you’re based in the capital like us, we’d recommend taking the time to look at London Grown. A workers’ co-operative, the organisation provides food to people and projects experiencing food poverty, particularly in the areas of Enfield and Haringey. This involves a community market garden and education hub in locations in both of the north London areas – one of which is seven acres of previously neglected land – all working towards promoting “local access to affordable, fresh and healthy food.”
The sister of Leste magazine, Doof is a print publication and platform which explores the everyday of eating. In a society where social media can often contribute to food anxiety, we love the way Doof highlights smaller steps towards developing one’s relationship with cooking and eating through recipes and stories of creators in the field. A publication that aims to be ad-free and fully independent, you can support its mission by donating to its GoFundMe here.
The Okra Project is a collective that brings home-cooked, healthy and culturally specific meals directly to Black Trans people to address the global crisis faced by this community. Its name pays homage to African ancestors who snuck “okra onto captive ships to sustain themselves and plant in the new world,” explains the organisation. “Black Diasporic cooking traditions often use the okra plant for its versatility and it is often associated with health, prosperity, and community.” There are a number of ways you can directly support The Okra Project through its multiple collaborations, or via following its progress and, if in a position to do so, a donation.
Farmerline is a farming initiative based in Ghana. Started with just $600 and the hope to bring technology to farming in order to create lasting wealth, the organisation has developed considerably over the past decade. Its work involves enabling agribusinesses, food manufacturers, NGOs and governments with the technology and knowledge to help farmers grow and align supply and demand. You can find out more about their work here.
Described as “a greedy attempt to document a very small part of Asian food,” FatBoy Zine is growingly becoming one of our favourite mags to pick up. Started by Christopher O’Leary, originally from a then UK-governed Hong Kong, the publication is a tribute to the wonderfully vast world of Asian cuisine and culture. You can purchase it directly from Antenne, or follow along with the publication’s progress here.
Your next must-listen podcast, Farmerama is an award-winning monthly show sharing the voices and stories behind regenerative farming. Committed to positive ecological futures, the podcast believes that farming, and individual farmers, will determine this. “In a wider context,” says its founders, “we all need farmers, yet few of us have much meaningful connection to, or understanding of, farming. It’s our mission to use Farmerama Radio as a platform to change that.”
Community Comfort is a downloadable cookbook featuring over 100 recipes from cooks of migrant heritage. Curated and created by Riaz Phillips, the digital e-cookbook is quick and easy to download. Not only does it feature a range of dishes to discover, the book dually raises funds for the bereaved healthcare colleagues and families of Black, Asian and Ethnic minority victims of Covid-19. You can purchase it directly here.
We’re under no assumption that many of our readers will already be familiar with Vittles, but we’re keen to put it in your direction, just in case. Described as “A food newsletter for novel times”, Vittles publishes arguably the best food and culture writing from around the world. The most helpful way to support the platform is by directly subscribing here.
Culinary Culture and Community
This story along with many others are part of our Culinary Culture and Community campaign exploring the intersection between food and creativity. To read further pieces from this series click on the link below.
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About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019, was made deputy editor and in November 2021, she became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.