After meeting while working in a London deli, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamini joined forces to open Ottolenghi in Notting Hill back in 2002, bringing Middle Eastern flavours to London. They have donated two recipes, as well as invaluable insight, to the #CookForSyria campaign.
They may have met in London but the pair grew up in Jerusalem, meaning they are no strangers to the variations in Middle Eastern flavours: “This is the food which bookends everything we do. The food of Syria is similar to the food of Palestine and Lebanon – the food that we grew up with. There are regional variations, of course, but this food forms a great part of our cooking.”
The first recipe they donated is a traditional dip, perfect for sharing: “Muhammara is a classic Levantine dip made with red peppers and chopped walnuts, spiced with aleppo chili – you can eat it by the spoonful, it’s so good. Scoop it up with pitta or it’s a lovely addition to a table full of food.” They suggest using a pestle and mortar to maintain the texture and leaving it to improve one day in the fridge – but don’t serve it fridge-cold.
Their next dish is an unusual mix of lentils and pasta with tamarind sumac and pomegranate: “We’re cooking a dish called harak osbao which directly translates to mean ‘he burnt his finger’ – a reference to it being so irresistible that you can’t help but get stuck in. It’s a mix of lentils and pasta with lots of flavour injected in with the tamarind water, chicken stock and pomegranate molasses in which it’s cooked. Fresh herbs, sharp sumac, refreshing pomegranate seeds – it’s beautiful comfort food fit for a feast.”
Recipes donated by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi and others can be found in the #CookForSyria Recipe Book, available for purchase on amazon.co.uk. All profits will be donated to aid children affected by the crisis in Syria.