By Sabrina Ghayour

It’s been so long since I got my act together to finish a review – my New Year Resolution is to get back into it and this has been a great book to start with.

Have you noticed how many cookbooks these days have a little name extension added on to their title? You know the kind of thing – ‘Olives and Oranges – food from my Mediterranean adventure’. Well this one doesn’t, it is just called Flavour, no explainers, no elaboration. It’s sort of  a relief actually that it isn’t teeing up a life story/philosophy thesis /travelogue experience.

This is the seventh book from this author, probably best known for her runaway success ‘Persiana’. She signed a book for me at the Good Food show and, because I was tail-end of the long queue, we had a few minutes to chat and I can confirm that yes, she is just as nice in person as she comes over on TV and on her social channels.


Happy-vibe-colours dominate the book’s design. The food images from Kris Kirkham, styled by Laura Field, carry this cheerful theme beautifully; they ooze bright citrus fruits, pomegranate seeds, green herbs, and red chillis.

Six chapters cover Salads; Little Bites & Savoury Treats; Meat, Poultry, Fish & Seafood; Vegetables & Pulses; Pasta, Noodles & Grains; and finally the Sweet chapter. This obviously won’t suit people who are hoping to find the ‘starter, main, dessert’ recipe arrangement, but it works. Within each chapter there are recipes that will stand alone as a main meal, as well as dishes that would be a good side, light lunch or supper. There are very handy tips at the end of recipes saying ‘serve with…..’ or ‘needs no accompaniment’.

Vegetarian and vegan recipes are identified at the top of the page, which I suppose saves the veggie reader from having to examine the recipe in detail to see if it could be made to work for them.

Each recipe has a brief introduction, which could be a back story about the recipe origin, or an introduction to some of the more exotic ingredients, or a tip about how to cook, serve or store the dish. Following my mantra of ‘always read the recipe through first’ it would probably be good to at least glance at this section even though it is strictly not part of the recipe instructions.


Recipes include lots of aubergines, honey, cinnamon, turmeric, yogurt, herbs, lemons, nuts and a multitude of other good stuff. Sabrina is Iranian born and the recipes lean towards the Middle East fairly emphatically. I say ‘lean’ because they feel sort of familiar – like that cousin who visits from foreign parts and is totally foreign, but recognisable as family at the same time. Having said that, many of the recipe combinations are unfamiliar enough to make you glad of the photo of the finished dish so you will know what to aim for.

The familiar bits include things like using sourdough bread or wraps here and there instead of some exotic bread; twists on sort-of-recognisable pasta dishes; chicken wings with tamarind instead of barbecue sauce, and many more. But even the familiar-ish food has hidden depths. I tackled a lamb dish called ‘Taas Kabab’ (pg 121) which started on the mouth masquerading as a regular stew, and finished with a sultry kiss of soft and sweet spice.


Large supermarkets are increasingly stocking food that we would have considered exotic at one point (rose harissa, pomegranate molasses, tahini, sumac and more) and I’m fairly sure that most of the more unusual ingredients in these recipes are now widely available. Pul Biber chilli flakes did require a trip to a middle eastern grocer and I am sure I will encounter more stuff that is difficult to source as I revisit the book. In the main, these recipes are fresh food at its best, expect to spend more time in the fruit and veg aisle and with the butcher and fishmonger than you will among the tins and packets.


No. Even the tagine recipes don’t assume you’re going to cook in an actual tagine pot type thing. You’ll probably want to have a pestle and mortar for grinding, and the usual selection of baking trays and normal stuff. You’ll start a good few recipes with seeds and spices on a dry pan so you will need a heavy bottomed pan that can take that heat without oil – but that’s a good thing to have anyway.


Lots of aspiring cooks are put off when they see a long list of ingredients and, as a result, miss out on some fantastic dishes that they could easily tackle. This book is ideal for someone who isn’t ready to go all-in on elaborate middle-eastern food but who wants to try something new in that general space. If you have a decent selection of spices in your cupboard, as well as stuff like honey, red wine vinegar and Maldon salt, your shopping list will be short for many of the recipes.  

Many of the dishes in this book are ideal for entertaining because they are largely prep-ahead and will bubble away, or wait in the fridge, while you sip prosecco with your guests, and if you want to make a splash at a barbecue the salads are flavourful and fab.

Recommended Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *