Cookbook road test: Honey & Co At Home

I’ve been a fan of food from across the Middle East since I discovered Claudia Roden at university (her writing was far more compelling than the Henry James and Edith Wharton I was duty-bound to read, and I learned a lot more from her, too…).

It’s been a fixation I’ve nurtured through the Ottolenghi years.


Cookbook road test: Honey & Co At Home

I’ve been a devotee of Honey & Co since squeezing into the tiny restaurant Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich opened on Warren Street six years ago, after moving to London from Israel. They have since opened a small deli and a grill house. When this book, their third, came across my desk, I pounced on it.

I’m put off by chef’s recipes that are complex and show-offy, but the ‘at home’ tagline set my mind at rest, as did the chapter headings: for us two; for friends; for the weekend; for a crowd – this is the way I cook.

I was drawn in by the lure of recipes for the likes of amba (an Iraqi Jewish relish made from fermented mango) and zaalouk (a spicy aubergine relish). The writing is personal, from the heart – and encouraging, too. “Cooking is easy, and something good is bound to happen if you just follow the recipe,” writes Itamar. Who could feel kitchen fright after reading that?

Quality of the recipes

“In this book we offer the recipes that make up our home, our lives,” as the authors put it. I went for two simple dishes: chicken in plums and sweet spice from the ‘for us two’ chapter, and medjool date, honey and macadamia breakfast loaf from ‘for the weekend’.

The chicken and plum dish combines savoury and sweet/sour notes, rounded out with coriander and fennel seeds and finished with tarragon. It’s deceptively easy – you whizz up the marinade, pour it over the chicken and put it in the fridge to marinate, then pop the chicken, plums and a few other ingredients into a roasting tin and cook. Just a bit of basting is required, and the results are sticky, sweet, incredibly moreish – and undeniably beautiful to look at. If you need the perfect do-ahead dinner party dish, this is it…

The sunny flavours of the date and honey loaf, enlivened with clementine and orange, had my name on it. This recipe also scored full marks for simplicity. The butter is melted together with the honey, and all you need is a large spoon to bring the batter together before transferring it to a lined tin and baking. The instructions were spot on and the results luscious.

Photography and design

Shots by Patricia Niven are bright and clear. As well as being separated into logical chapters, recipes are also set out by category so it’s super-easy to find what you want to cook.

Who’s the book suitable for?

Most recipes are straight-up simple. They do require a bit of shopping for ingredients, but most are now available in supermarkets.

Honey & Co at home: Middle Eastern recipes from our kitchen, by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich (Pavilion, £26)

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