There's little I like more than a decent vegetarian cookbook and several hours with which to bury myself in its contents. Persepolis, the latest offering from Peckham's cook, recipe writer and shopkeeper extraordinaire, Sally Butcher, is one such book. Mainly focused on middle-eastern recipes, with a smattering of African ones, it's a delight packed full of veggie inspiration and beautiful photography.
As well as the recipes there are some lovely stories - both from Islamic folklore and from Sally's own experience as a shopkeeper in Peckham, London. Many of the recipes have come from her customers and the book is a great insight both into Sally's life and cooking and into the varied culture of Peckham, which is home to a multitude of people from all over the world and is absolutely nothing like the Peckham of Only Fools and Horses.
Should you happen to be passing through Peckham don't miss the chance to visit her shop, also called Persepolis where you can enjoy a veggie lunch in the cafe at the back or pick up a jar of tahini, preserved lemons, some Iranian dried limes and a multitude of things you can't get anywhere else.
There are some lovely recipes in the book such as:
Somalian greens with peanuts and coffee
Rye berry pilaf with barberries and pistachios
However, I chose to make the potato kufteh (sometimes written as kofta or kofte) as it was a recipe that I thought there was at least a chance of my kids wanting to eat (two did, one didn't - which was to be expected). The recipe is kindly shared with the permission of Pavilion Books.
Here's how to make potato kufteh (recipe slightly adapted from the original one in Persepolis):
Oil, for frying
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 small red pepper, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaped tsp ras el hanout (I replaced with ground cumin as I didn't have ras el hanout)
2 medium potatoes, boiled until soft
2 tbsp tahini paste (or peanut butter)
1/2 tsp salt (I left this out as was feeding to the kids)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp chickpea flour (gram flour)
2 tbsp white sesame seeds (I used a mixture of black and white)
1. Heat a little oil in a pan and fry the onions, pepper and garlic until soft. Add the ras el hanout (or cumin) and take off the heat.
2. Mash the potatoes with a little oil or butter then stir through the cooked onion and pepper mixture, the tahini and the salt and pepper. Mix well with a wooden spoon then using wet hands form into 12 walnut-sized balls.
3. Mix the chickpea flour with the sesame seeds and roll the kufteh in the mixture before frying them in a good glug of hot oil until golden brown.
4. Serve hot or cold with hummus and salad.
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Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Persepolis for the purposes of this review. I haven't received any payment for this post and all opinions are honest and my own.
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