London restaurant cookbooks

Time Out reviews recipe books from the capital's best restaurants and cafés

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook

Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

, Ebury Press, £25

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Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, chefs at Ottolenghi, are purveyors of some of the city’s most beautiful food. The window displays at their London cafés, which often feature their trademark cloud-like giant meringues, can set mouths watering at 20 paces. In this sleek, good-looking volume they spill the beans on some of their best-known dishes.

Tamimi and Ottolenghi are both from Jerusalem, Tamimi of Palestinian heritage and Ottolenghi with grandparents who hailed from Germany and Italy. The recipes are a glorious mix of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Californian influences, with a smattering of northern Europe (particularly in the baking department). It’s simple but intriguing food, and often features unusual ingredients or combinations, such as sour cherries with Gorgonzola or Camargue red rice with quinoa.

Readers may know Yotam Ottolenghi through the column he writes for The Guardian on Saturdays, ‘The New Vegetarian’. As well as meat-free dishes, many based on pulses and grains, there are also plenty of meat and fish dishes in this book.

The downfall of so many cookery books written by chefs is that the recipes are overcomplicated and full of frou-frou. Not so here. The recipes, while a bit wordy, are well within the reach of people who, though they may love good food, wouldn’t count themselves as dab hands in the kitchen.

It’s very modern, very metropolitan and is a marked departure from the nostalgic, old-fashioned British cooking trend that’s currently evident in food publishing. It’s in the vein of the ‘River Café’ and ‘Moro’ books – and we suspect it will be just as popular with London’s farmers’ market shoppers.

Susan Low, Time Out London Issue 1772: August 4-11 2004

Buy this cookbook