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Restaurant cookbooks for delicious lockdown recipes, from Dishoom to Leon

If you’re missing eating out, dust off your apron and prepare to be head chef 

Eva Waite-Taylor
Thursday 21 January 2021 13:46
<p>Whether it’s Indian or Italian, recreate your favourite dishes at home</p>

Whether it’s Indian or Italian, recreate your favourite dishes at home

Have you ever had a delicious restaurant meal and attempted to recreate it at home and had no luck? Us too. 

Chances are that’s because you’ve not got the right cookbook in front of you, and as Mary Berry says you should always read and follow a recipe carefully. 

Luckily, many of our favourite restaurants have started to release their own recipe books detailing some of their best dishes and details on how you can make them yourself at home. 

Of course, with a national lockdown stipulating that eateries must be closed, you may feel even more motivated to try and rediscover old favourites from home. 

While DIY makeaways and delivery services are booming, with even fine dining options available, sometimes they don’t quite cut it, especially if you’re pining after a special meal you had BC (before-covid) at a restaurant that isn’t offering the service.

To help you on your quest to cook up restaurant-quality food at home, for Valentine’s Day or otherwise, we’ve found our favourite restaurant cookbooks to help you on your way throughout lockdown and beyond. 

Whatever the cuisine, whether you’re craving Dishoom’s signature house black daal or Circolo Popolare’s classic risotto, there’s something for every tastebud here. If you’re in the mood for food, read on.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent. 

‘Jikoni: Proudly Inauthentic Recipes from an Immigrant Kitchen’ by Ravinder Bhogal, published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

The passion project of Ravinder Bhogal, chef and restaurateur of Jikoni, this book, much like the restaurant, is in part influenced by African and Indian flavours, as well as a range of other ingredients including miso and kimchi. Split into sections for breakfast and brunch; snacks and nibbles; vegetables and salads; fish and shellfish; poultry and meat, and finally sweet things and desserts, within the pages you’ll find “inauthentic recipes” and new world tastes and smells. It also featured in The Independent’s guide to the cookbooks of 2020 you need, and the IndyBest’s review of the best gifts for foodies, with our writer noting her favourite recipes were prawn toast Scotch eggs with banana ketchup and the cauliflower popcorn with black vinegar dipping sauce. Bhogal’s Jikoni has also been longlisted for the André Simon awards.

‘Dishoom: The First Ever Cookbook from the Much-loved Indian Restaurant’ by Kavi Thakrar, Naved Nasir, and Shamil Thakrar

This comes from one of the country’s best-loved mini chain of Indian restaurants, which serves up mouth-watering curries, stews and those bacon naan rolls all inspired by Bombay cafe culture. Whether you’re a longtime fan, or simply love Indian cuisine, and are looking to recreate the signature dishes at home, then this is a must-have. If you want to try before you buy, the writers head to The Independent’s food section where we’ve featured some recipes from the book.  

‘Towpath’ by Lori De Mori and Laura Jackson, published by Chelsea Green Publishing

Regent Canal’s hidden gem, Towpath is a much-loved spot serving up seasonal food, including everything from exceptional cheese toasties to hearty lentil dishes. It truly is home cooking at its best and the food is crafted to make you feel well-fed and comforted, whatever the weather. While the restaurant is always closed annually from November to March, if you’re missing your Sunday brunches, this one is for you. You can expect everything from fried eggs with caramelised sage and chilli butter to beetroot borani. It’s such a lovely recipe book that it was crowned IndyBest best buy in our guide to the best winter cookbooks, with our reviewer noting that it’s “the kind of recipe book you want to snuggle up on the sofa with, as well as use in the kitchen”. 

‘River Cafe 30: Simple Italian recipes from an iconic restaurant’ by Ruther Rogers, Rose Gray, Sian Wyn Owen and Joseph Trivelli, published by Ebury Publishing

Another well-known and much-loved riverside café, this tome marks 30 years of memories and good food at The River Cafe in south west London. Championing good quality Italian cooking, River Cafe 30 is a collection of revisited and updated recipes as well as 30 new favourites from the menu today. Encapsulating the essence of the restaurant and its food, prepare to channel head chef Ruth Rogers energy at home. 

‘Moro: The Cookbook’ by Samantha and Samuel Clark

The first cookbook from husband-and-wife team, Sam and Sam Clark, owners of London-based, Mediterranean restaurant, Moro that specialises in tapas. While much of the food at Moro is cooked over open flames, it doesn’t mean the recipes in this book won’t translate well to cooking at home. In fact quite the opposite, if followed properly, the dishes you create at home may just be as delicious as the ones you get when dining with them. Within the pages, you’ll find everything from hummus with ground lamb and pine nuts to chickpeas with spinach. 

‘Leon: Ingredients and Recipes’ by Allegra McEvedy, published by Conran Octopus

If, when going to the office was a thing, you used to frequent Leon at lunchtime, this cookbook might just fill the void. Split into two sections: the ingredients book, which arms you with everything you need to know about the building blocks of any recipe, and the recipe book where you can put your newfound knowledge to use. We’ll be making the Moroccan meatballs and have the Leon better brownie for dessert. The Leon Fast & Free cookbook featured in our guide to the best gluten-free cookbooks, with our writer heralding the banana and almond pancakes. 

‘The Hand & Flowers Cookbook’ by Tom Kerridge, published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Returning to the place that made his name, Tom Kerridge’s The Hand & Flowers Cookbook is centred around his two Michelin starred pub in Marlow. Celebrating the very best recipes from Hand and Flowers, you can expect to learn how to make everything from salt cod Scotch eggs to chocolate and ale cake.  

‘Big Mamma Cucina Popolare: Contemporary Italian Recipes’ by Mamma, Big, published by Phaidon Press Ltd

Big Mamma group burst onto the UK food scene in 2019 with Gloria and Circolo Popolare, and it’s been such a hit that there are plans to open a third restaurant in Covent Garden. While we can’t go to any of the much-loved Italian eateries, this cookbook provides the perfect opportunity to recreate the mains and puddings in your very own kitchen. Whether it’s the restaurant's classic risotto alla milanese, or you’re desperate to find out how they make that tiramisù, put your skills to the test. 

Celebrate the wonderful range of food writing with our round-up of the André Simon awards longlisted titles

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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