I am not a lover of any particular ethnic cuisine. I have no national preferences. It’s all about taste. I do, however, find myself drawn to the food of India (we in Britain have had a love affair with food of the subcontinent for generations), North African food (my years living in France have introduced me to the dishes of the Maghreb) and Middle Eastern food for its subtle flavours and amazing food history. Feast Bazaar is a book that I find enticing.
The author, Barry Véra, is a British-born transplant to Australia. He was trained as a chef in France and has worked for some of the best in the UK. He now has his own restaurant in Brighton, Melbourne, as well as a popular TV series called Feast. This book is a paper representation of Barry’s culinary adventure for the series.
Feast Bazaar considers the food of Morocco, India and Syria. These disparate countries have many historic links and also culinary similarities. All of them have a rich culinary heritage and the food is delicious. The book arrived and I could not wait to start leafing through the recipes and involve myself in the adventure.
The food of India draws me like a magnet. The recipes here include so many of the classic standards. This book would be a good introduction to Indian cooking with its easy-to-follow recipes. Simple staples such as Masala Chai (spiced Indian tea) give a sample of the warming spices so typical of dishes of the subcontinent. A delicious drink, and making it yourself is a lot cheaper than buying a commercial instant mix from the supermarket.
Bondas are a popular snack in Kerala (and in this home in West London). It’s a preparation of seasoned mashed potato which is then coated in a chickpea flour batter and deep fried. Barry proposes these for breakfast, but make small ones and you’ll find they also work well as a starter for an Indian meal.
Tchoutchouka Salad is Algerian, but food migrates in North Africa just as it does in Europe. It’s a salad of roasted peppers with garlic and spices. Use red, green and yellow peppers for sweetness and colour. It’s good with grilled fish or chicken or as part of a selection of salads at the start of a Moroccan meal.
Gazelles Horns are crescent-shaped pastries that are served as a dessert or a snack with tea or coffee. They are one of the most popular Moroccan cakes and are found in every North African tea shop… even in France. They are quite expensive to buy so save some money and make your own.
The cuisine of Syria isn’t as well known as that of Morocco but it shares many ingredients. Hummus with Fried Lamb and Sumac is a good illustration of the similarities. This is a substantial dish which only needs a green salad and some bread alongside.
Cinnamon Lamb Pizza with Oregano is a typically delicious Syrian snack. Yes, a snack if you only have a slice, but this is a meal in itself. This recipe calls for mozzarella although I have seen it without cheese.
Feast Bazaar is a fascinating cookbook and travelogue. It contains many recipes that are traditional national dishes. They are iconic but accessible to the home cook. Vibrant ingredients will entice any food lover to look beyond their habitual culinary horizons.
Feast Bazaar – India, Morocco, Syria
Author: Barry Véra
Published by: Murdoch Books
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018