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Ebury Press, £27
‘Plenty’, published in 2010, has proved to be one of the best vegetarian cookery books, internationally renowned for its imaginative and colourful recipes. It’s taken four years for Ottolenghi to produce this sequel, during which he was busy with other book projects (most notably ‘Jerusalem’), a newspaper column, running his Ottolenghi cafés and a TV series.
It’s been worth the wait. His trademarks are still there: global ingredients and layers of flavour. The chapters are organised by cooking techniques: Steamed, Simmered, Fried. The recipes are appealing; clear and easy to follow. For spread after spread we were wowed by Jonathan Lovekin’s stunning photography of unexpected dishes, such as the fried upma (an Indian semolina dish) with poached egg or the pudding of pot barley with orange and sesame.
Most recipes are aimed at the keen, intermediate level cook who’s not in a great rush; not cheffy, but also not instant. Smoky polenta chips, for example, involves quite a few stages to make – but the results are delicious, with a reduced tomato sauce to accompany the firm chips. Where ingredients may be tricky to find – Turkish hot pepper, lemon geranium water – substitutes are suggested, but most of the recipes require only one trip to the supermarket.
Some of the dishes are so simple you wonder why no one has thought of them before – in particular, the baked rhubarb with sweet labneh (strained yogurt). It’s this approachability that is the book’s great strength, providing the inspiration to make delicious vegetarian dishes.
By Guy Dimond