Sabrina Ghayour doesn’t really need much of an introduction as she is a driving force in the UK food industry. She is best known for her simple but flavourful Middle Eastern dishes and her work has featured in many popular publications such as the Guardian and BBC Good Food Magazine. Sabrina’s first cookbook Persiana was awarded ‘Best New Cookbook’ at the Observer Food Monthly Awards in 2014. She has written other Sunday Times bestselling books such as Feasts and Bazaar.
Simply, released in August 2020, offers ‘Easy Everyday Dishes’ and promises quick and simple dishes to love. The book is very stylish with a beautiful teal cover (bonus points for my favourite colour), embossed with bold gold writing and the elegant cross section of a pomegranate. I adore the bold simplicity spread throughout the book. I am also happy that there’s a ribbon bookmark; so rarely seen in books these days but so helpful when you’re frantically trying to find a given page whilst cooking.
Sabrina’s introduction showcases her passion for her job, promising that all recipes have been tested… and tested… and tested again to keep them as simple and easy as possible. She mentions how she has learned from her readers what they enjoy most about her recipes and has adapted to focus on those aspects. Sabrina also encourages readers to substitute or omit ingredients and to experiment with the recipes to suit their own tastes.
The book is split into five self-explanatory chapters including ‘Effortless Eating’, ‘Traditions with a Twist’, ‘The Melting Pot’, ‘Something Special’ and ‘Cakes, Bakes and Sweet Treats’. The recipe format is traditional, and each one contains a short introduction with a story about the dish, possible substitutions or serving suggestions. Vegan and Vegetarian recipes are easy to find too, via a tab in the top corner telling you which diets a recipe is suitable for – I found it very quick and easy to find these recipes whilst flicking through and would love to see other books take this approach.
Each recipe has a photo (all the good books do!) – I love the simplicity of plating, with food pictured in the tray it was cooked on, or nestled in baking paper, all of which adds to the authenticity of the book. Most recipes also have a ‘simply delicious with’ section which refers to other recipes in the book that would make a good pairing. There is so much confidence in this book, that it even outlines which salt to use (Maldon sea salt flakes, in case you’re interested).
Slightly overwhelmed when I first started flicking through the recipes – there are so many fantastic dishes I really didn’t know where to start – I was soon drawn to the ‘Yoghurt & spice roasted salmon’. An amazingly simple and quick recipe that’s perfect for weekday dinners, this took only 15 minutes to prepare. Chunks of salmon are roasted in an extremely hot oven after being marinated for a short while – resulting in salmon that is still beautifully moist, and the spices balance well with the yoghurt and lime. I’ve already cooked this a few times in the last few weeks.
The ‘Date and ginger chicken wings’ were a winner too, even though I was initially a little apprehensive about the amount of ginger. The marinade is blended in a food processor, poured over the chicken and left to soak in. The cooking is, once again, very quick and easy in a hot oven. I’ve never tasted wings like this before, extreme in natural sweetness from the dates and spiciness from the fiery ginger plus a wonderful depth of flavour from the heavy charring.
The ‘Beetroot and feta lattice’ was not what I was expecting. Using vacuum-packed (ready-cooked) beetroot and ready-rolled puff pastry, this is another simple dish that’s quick to prepare and to cook. I suggest grating the beetroot over a kitchen sink as it can get a little messy… The finished lattice was very comforting eaten hot on a wet day, and even tastier eaten cold for lunch the next day, holding its shape a little better once cooled. Even my beetroot-hating partner enjoyed it, appreciating the chilli heat and the saltiness from the cheese.
The ‘Pomegranate molasses & honey-glazed meatballs’ were another big hit. They took a bit more care than the previous recipes but still weren’t too much time or effort. Containing classic middle eastern spices of cumin, coriander and cinnamon, the meatballs were full of flavour even before the addition of the sweet and slightly sour glaze. I served them with the suggested ‘Tomato & Garlic rice’ which is described as ‘quick and lazy’ and matched well with the meatballs. Next time, I’ll add a little more garlic and a little less lime juice to suit our tastes.
The ‘Mozzarella, olive & za’atar pizzettes’ took minutes to prepare, were perfect for a very quick lunch, and made a nice change from a cheese sandwich.
As always, I also picked a recipe from the sweet treats section. The ‘Saffron and sesame shortbreads’ were well worth the effort. I’ve never used icing sugar to make a shortbread dough before, but it resulted in a crumblier texture, and I loved the combination of toasted sesame and delicate saffron. As recommended in the book, I kept half the dough in the freezer and it cooked just as well once defrosted as when freshly made. These biscuits were perfect with my morning chamomile tea.
I asked Kavey if a four-word review would suffice, but ‘I love this book’ isn’t enough, apparently!
I could easily eat my way through every recipe in this book and I’m really excited to try things like ‘Polow-e-bademjan-o-felfel’, a crispy rice dish with aubergine, and ‘Silk Road-style lamb and cumin pasta’, which sounds like nothing I’ve had before. If you’re in the market for a cookbook with plenty of simple and tasty dishes , ‘Simply’ by Sabrina Ghayour is a worthy contender.
Recipes from Simply
We have permission from Mitchell Beazley to share some recipes with you from the book:
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Kavey Eats received a review copy of Sabrina Ghayour’s Simply from publishers Mitchell Beazley. Food photography by Jack Thomas.