The Duchess of Sussex has launched a charity cookbook to raise money for victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.
Together: Our Community Cookbook features recipes from women who are part of the Hubb Community Kitchen, which was created to provide for the hundreds of residents who were left homeless following the devastating Grenfell Tower fire.
The Duchess was joined by her husband Prince Harry and her mother Doria Ragland at Kensington Palace yesterday for a party to celebrate the launch of Together - and she helped prepare lunch for the guests too.
Meghan first thought of the idea for the cookbook after going to the community kitchen at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in North Kensington in January of this year, before marrying Prince Harry in May, and has continued to visit the cooks over the following months.
Here, a group of women came together to cook in the aftermath of the Grenfell blaze, and together with the Duchess they decided to create the recipe book.
“I had just recently moved to London and I felt so immediately embraced by the women in the kitchen - your warmth, your kindness, and also to be able to be in this city and to see in this one small room how multicultural it was,” Meghan said yesterday at the launch party.
The Duchess of Sussex celebrated the launch of the cookbook by giving her first public speech as a duchess, telling guests before they sat down to a lunch featuring dishes from the book: “Working on this project for the past nine months has been a tremendous labour of love.”
Speaking from a marquee in Perk’s Field close to Kensington Palace, she said of the family chefs: “On a personal level I feel so proud to live in a city that can have so much diversity - 12 countries represented in this one group of women.”
The Duchess quickly got stuck in, preparing food that was laid out on trestle tables, dishing out green rice and later flipping chapatis and then watching kofta kebabs, turning them so they browned evenly.
Guests sat down to the home-made dishes from the new cookbook including coconut chicken curry, aubergine masala and a range of chapatis and sharing dips, as well as caramelised plum upside-down cake, and spiced mint tea.
The duchess wrote the foreword for Together, which is now available in bookshops and online.
In her speech, which was made without notes, Meghan thanked all those involved, adding: “On a personal note I’m especially grateful because this is my first project so I appreciate your support and the vision that I had for this and seeing it come to fruition.
“Everyone embraced this so deeply, because it’s been a passion project for all of us - and for very good reason. I said in the foreword that this is more than a cookbook, and what I mean by that is the power of food is more than just the meal itself, it is the story behind it.
“And when you get to know the story of the recipe you get to know the person behind it, and that’s what we're talking about in terms of coming together, to really engage and talk and to be able to celebrate what connects us, rather than what divides us.
“That, I believe, is the ethos of Together.”
Here are some of the recipes in the book:
Aubergine Masala, by Gurmit Kaur, from the Hubb Community Kitchen - serves four
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 large aubergines, chopped into 4cm cubes
- 350g new potatoes, halved
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 dried curry leaves
- 3 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 4 vine tomatoes, finely chopped
- 200ml water
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
For the rice
- 600ml water
- pinch of salt
- 300g basmati rice
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan on a high heat. Add the aubergines and fry, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until well browned. Tip the aubergines into a large bowl and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium–high and add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan. Add the potatoes and fry, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Add the fried potatoes to the aubergines and set aside.
Heat a large pan on a medium–high heat, add the cumin, mustard and fenugreek seeds and toast until fragrant, 2–3 minutes. Then add the remaining oil and, when it is hot, add the onion and curry leaves and fry for 10 minutes until soft and golden.
Add the tomato purée and cook for 2 minutes, then add the garlic paste, ginger paste, turmeric and tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomato juice has evaporated and the mixture is starting to dry out in the pan.
Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Put the water and salt in a pan and bring to the boil. Add the rice, reduce the heat slightly, cover and boil for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, keeping the lid firmly on, and set aside for 10 minutes.
Add the fried aubergines and potatoes to the curry pan, along with the water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and simmer for 5–10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add half the chopped coriander and stir through.
Remove the lid from the rice and fluff up with a fork. Serve alongside the curry, sprinkled with the remaining coriander
Coconut Chicken Curry, by Aysha Bora, from the Hubb Community Kitchen - serves four
- 1 large chicken, jointed into 8 pieces, excess skin trimmed away
- 1 large ripe tomato, roughly chopped
- 1 onion, quartered
- 15g fresh root ginger, peeled
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 6 serrano chillies, stems removed and de-seeded (use fewer if you prefer milder curries)
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 x 400ml tins coconut milk
- 3 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and halved
- juice of ½ lemon
- salt and pepper
- 10g fresh coriander, chopped, to garnish
- rice, chapatis or flatbreads, to serve
Score each piece of the chicken in two or three places, slicing about 1cm into the meat.
Put the tomato, onion, ginger, garlic, chillies, cumin, coriander, turmeric and some salt and pepper into a food processor and blend to a rough paste. Rub one third of the paste all over the chicken, into the cuts and under the skin; reserve the rest of the mixture. Refrigerate the chicken for at least 1 hour, or up to 5 hours.
Preheat the grill to the highest setting, and line a large baking tin with foil.
In a large pan, melt the coconut oil on a medium heat; add the remaining paste and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until all of the moisture evaporates. Increase the heat slightly and cook for 3–5 minutes until the paste is thick and dark. Add the coconut milk and simmer for 25–30 minutes until the sauce is thick.
Meanwhile, put the marinated chicken, skin side up, in the lined baking tin and grill for 15 minutes, until well coloured and charred, then turn the chicken over and grill for another 5 minutes to make sure it is cooked through.
Stir the chicken and any juices into the curry pan, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 5 minutes until the flavours have combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add the boiled eggs and the lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped coriander and serve with rice, chapatis or flatbreads.
Caramelised Plum Upside-Down Cake, by Faiza Hayani Bellili, from the Hubb Community Kitchen - serves eight to 10
- 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
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 5 minutes before turning out onto 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 5 minutes before slicing.
Extracted from Together: Our Community Cookbook (Ebury Press, £9.99). Photography by Jenny Zarins.
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