Grenfell recipes: How food is putting the heart back into the community

The Hubb Community Kitchen is bringing Grenfell survivors together and restoring a sense of home

The Hubb Community Kitchen opened after the Grenfell fire, providing women who had lost their homes with a place to cook for their families and for each other. The diverse – and always delicious – dishes that they share highlight the vast range of cultures in the area. And above all the Kitchen shows the power of food to bring people together and restore a sense of home.

A cookbook collating some of their top recipes, Together: Our Community Cookbook, has shot straight to the top of the bestsellers chart. Each recipe tells a story, of the chef who created it and the people they cook for, and proceeds will help keep the Kitchen open. Meghan Markle pitched in and last week she and her mother helped with the launch. Here’s a taste of what’s cooking.

Vegetable Samosas

Munrira Mahmud

“Grenfell was a real community and my neighbour Rania and I used to party with food all the time. The first time I made these samosas for her, she ate 10 of them. Really! They look like a lot of work, but if you have a food processor to chop the vegetables it’s very easy. Use my quick way of folding them too, to save time. Just be sure to make enough…”

  • Vegetable Samosa
  • 1 potato, about 150g
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil, plus 
    extra for brushing
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • About 120g white cabbage,
    finely sliced
  • 1 large carrot, about 120g,
    peeled and grated
  • 100g mixed red and green peppers, cored, de-seeded
    and finely chopped
  • 50g frozen peas
  • ½ tsp granulated sugar
  • 12 spring roll pastry wrappers,
    25 x 25cm
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • salt

Note: You can also make spring rolls with this filling. Filled samosas can be frozen for up to eight weeks. Bake them from frozen for 20 minutes.

Method

Boil the potato in salted water for 30 minutes until soft. Drain and leave to cool, then peel and dice.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat.

Add the spice seeds and fry for 30 seconds, until fragrant.

Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook for about two minutes, until translucent.

Add the turmeric and cinnamon and stir for a few seconds until the onion is coated with the spices.

Add the cabbage, carrot and peppers and cook over high heat for 4-5 minutes or until soft.

Add the diced potato, peas, ½ teaspoon of salt and the sugar and stir for a couple of minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Transfer to a large plate or a tray and leave to cool.

Cut each pastry square in half to make two rectangles. Keep the pastry covered with a clean, damp tea towel to stop it drying out.

Working with one strip of pastry at a time and with a long edge facing you, fold the bottom right-hand corner of the strip to meet the top edge, forming a triangle, then fold the top right-hand corner over to meet the top left-hand corner of the strip, forming a square.

Brush the single layer of pastry (bottom left) with some beaten egg and fold over to form a triangular pouch. Open the pouch and fill with about three tablespoons of the samosa filling. Brush the triangular flap with beaten egg and fold over to seal the pouch. Place on a tray and keep covered while you make the rest of the samosas.

To bake the samosas, preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Place the samosas on the baking sheet.

Brush the tops with a little oil and then with some beaten egg. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn them over, brush the other side with oil and egg and bake for another 10 minutes.

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Munira holding the pan, says food was central to the social life at Grenfell. Image: Jenny Zarins; Getty Images

Green Rice

Ahlam Saeid

“I have a Master’s degree in chemistry, but when I came to Britain from Iraq it wasn’t easy to combine that with family life, so now the kitchen is my laboratory. With the mixing, pouring and measuring, I feel like I am back in my old world. This is a version of a traditional dish, which I made up. It’s a good centrepiece because the colour is so striking.”

  • 500g lamb neck fillet or boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 3cm cubes
  • 1 litre chicken stock
    (made with two stock cubes)
  • 300g basmati rice
  • 250g frozen broad beans
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 40g fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp dried dill

For the cucumber, dill and yoghurt sauce:

  • 1 cucumber, coarsely grated
  • 500g full-fat natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Method

Place the lamb and stock in a large pan and bring to the boil.

Skim off the foam on the surface, reduce the heat to medium–low and gently simmer for one hour (or 1½ hours if you are using lamb shoulder), until cooked through. Wash the rice and leave to soak for 30 minutes. Blanch the broad beans in a pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, drain and refresh under cold water. Remove the outer skins.

When the lamb is cooked, drain and reserve the stock. Heat half of the oil in a heavy-based pan and fry the garlic until it just starts to colour. Add the cooked lamb and fry for 5–6 minutes until evenly browned, stirring all the time. Add the broad beans and half of the fresh and dried dill and cook for two minutes. Transfer to a plate, set aside and keep warm.

In the same pan, heat the remaining oil on a low to medium heat.

Drain the rice and add to the pan, stirring until all the grains are coated with oil. Add 500ml of the meat stock, bring to a simmer, cover with a tight-fitting lid, then turn the heat to the lowest setting and cook for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the yoghurt sauce. Mix the grated cucumber and yoghurt in a bowl. Season to taste. Sprinkle with the dried dill and drizzle with the olive oil.

When the rice is ready, stir it with a fork to fluff it. Add the rest of the fresh and dried dill, the reserved meat and broad beans, and stir gently. Add a little of the reserved stock if you need extra moisture and cook on a low heat for about eight minutes.

Serve immediately, with the cucumber, dill and yoghurt sauce.

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Together: Our Community Cookbook (Ebury Press, £9.99) is out now

Caramelised Plum Upside-Down Cake

Faiza Hayani

“As soon as I heard about the Kitchen, I volunteered to help, cooking recipes from my homeland, Algeria. This cake is one my mum used to make. She always said plums are an unreliable fruit – they can be quite sour when raw. This brings out the best in them.”

  • 2 tsp sunflower oil, for greasing
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter, very soft
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 8 plums, halved and stoned
  • 40g dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 25g cornflour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C.Grease a 23cm round springform cake tin with the sunflower oil and place on a baking sheet.

For the caramel, put 225g of the granulated sugar into a small, wide,heavy pan on a low heat. Without stirring, let the sugar dissolve completely. Once liquid, let it gently bubble for 15–20 minutes or until it is a deep golden colour. Add 10g of the butter, half the vanilla extract and the salt, gently swirling the pan to combine the butter as it melts.

Once fully incorporated, immediately remove from the heat and pour the caramel into the prepared cake tin. Place the plum halves on top, cut side down, nestled tightly together, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the remaining butter together with the remaining granulated sugar and the brown sugar until pale and creamy: this will take 2–3 minutes using a handheld electric whisk; if you don’t have one, use a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well. Once the eggs are well combined, add the remaining vanilla extract, the cornflour, ground almonds, flour and baking powder to the bowl and fold through with a metal spoon until just combined (taking care not to over-mix), then pour over the plums. Smooth over the top, then bake for 40–45 minutes until cooked through; a thin skewer inserted into the
centre of the cake should come out clean.

Transfer the cake to a wire rack and leave to cool in the tin for five minutes before turning out on to a serving plate. To do this, put the serving plate on top of the tin and flip over before releasing the sides of the tin and removing the base. Let the cake cool for a further five minutes before slicing.

Extracts from Together: Our Community Cookbook (Ebury Press, £9.99)
royalfoundation.com/project/together-cookbook