Fantastic birthday present that looks extremely yummy, inside and out.
I’m even more excited to be cooking from it after a recent visit to Bita’s Persian Feast, which the Metro recently declared to be one of London’s five best supper clubs, and which I found through Grub Club. Sour cherries and dill, two key ingredients in Ukranian cooking, are also used widely in Persian cuisine too.
As a fan of the bright, bold flavours of Middle Eastern cooking spread by Moro and Ottolenghi, I found Bita’s cooking more balanced and restrained, but never boring. It was like realising that an orchestra can play pianissimo, and not always with cymbals (anchovies, pomegranates). I would guess that this was in part because the feast was vegan.
Bita herself explained each dish, from the mouth-tinglingly fresh herb platter to start, to the buttered rice from the bottom of the pan that she used to trade with her brother for help with homework, and the sour cherry tea. The flavours were balanced, discreet, drawing you on to satisfaction. Far from missing anything, I came away feeling more well-fed than many other meals I’ve eaten out, and the whole experience is a far cry from the sad tastleness of much vegan cuisine here.
Most of all, I noticed Bita’s warmth both in her own cooking and welcome to her house, and in her bond with her daughter and mother. This too comes across in Mamushka, where Olia recalls family meals and recipes in a far warmer way than just as a marketing shtick. Both Bita’s Feast and Mamushka are highly recommended.
(food photo from Mamushka – I was too busy having a good time at Bita’s to take any.)